Opinion

Candidates wanted, civility needed

Although the filing deadline isn't until late July, it's not too soon for potential public officeholders to contemplate running for office.

Three seats on the City Council and two seats on the School Board will be up for votes in November.

We need excellent candidates to fill these positions that are so crucial to the quality of life on Mercer Island. However, we fear that some good candidates may decide not to run because of the lack of civility that has surrounded many recent issues.

The last few elections have seen some particularly contentious races, especially for the School Board, where various supporters turned to personal and angry attacks and separated candidates into "us vs. them" slates.

Thankfully, the School Board itself has moved beyond unnecessary conflicts to focus on the work of the school district.

The lack of civility has been seen at meetings of the City Council and School Board. Some of the behavior directed at council members at public meetings, especially during discussion of issues such as solo access to I-90's carpool lanes, would make anyone reconsider public service.

We seem to be losing the ability to disagree while still respecting another person and his or her right to a different opinion.

Inevitably, all Mercer Island residents suffer if quality candidates do not run for our public offices.

Let's pledge as a community to attack policies, not people. Let's take personal responsibility for informing ourselves on the issues and contacting candidates before taking a position. The letters to the editor are an important forum for the entire community. Let's promise to each other to be civil verbally and in writing.

Once an election is done, we still need to be able to move forward as a community, not as polarized camps.

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