I love it when self-righteous conservatives demand I do their journalistic homework, insist that I present both sides of a stilted story, and then defend a reality with absolutely no evidence to support it.
But the truth is I’ve always been an opinion columnist, Larry and I do take sides, and unlike most conservatives, we always provide a respectful opportunity for the other side to come on the show and make their point.
So in that vein of taking sides, I hope you take the time to listen to yesterday’s Ward & Jones because there is a massive difference between our U-46s school board candidates.
To say that Donna Smith’s love for the District and passion for serving U-46 students is self-evident is a massive understatement. And the fact that she’s still enthusiastic after serving 16 years on that often perilous board says it all.
“It’s always all about me” board member Traci Ellis – who’s had it better than most white folks – could learn a lot from Ms. Smith.
Melissa Owen’s thoughtfully articulated positions are the result of an open mind and her years of service on the U-46 Citizens Advisory Council. She actually took the time and made the effort to understand the enigma that can be the U-46 School District, before running for the board.
Conversely, aside from a perverse world view, what does 20 year-old bible-thumping board candidate Enoch Essendrop have to offer U-46 students? The only person he serves is himself. It will be interesting to see if he can prove he actually lives in the district.
Then there’s board member Cody Holt who rarely says a word at meetings, does exactly what fellow board member Jeanette Ward tells him, consistently attacks a transgendered middle school student to rile his base, and he calls his unchallenged Facebook statements “accomplishments.”
People, you have a real and obvious choice here. Do you want four more years of alt-right pandering, the utter failure to consider any other viewpoint, and dropping bombs just to make it difficult for everyone else, or do you want thoughtful leadership driven by a passion to serve the 40,000 diverse children that make up the second largest school district in Illinois?
Look! I’m as big a fiscal hawk as any of y’all. But budgetary reform can only come through building a board consensus. Even board member Phil Costello understands that throwing regular temper tantrums will not help your cause. (Traci Ellis could learn something from him too!) Meanwhile, Jeanette Ward, Cody Holt, and Enoch Essendrop will continue to distract, deter, and demean, as they get absolutely nothing done.
Is this a battle for the soul of the District? Perhaps I’ve fallen prey to my capacity to over apply hyberbole again. But I do believe the choice is clear! Donna Smith’s passion for serving the school district is clear. The thoughtful Melissa Owens is ready to hit the ground running. And if Veronica Noland can handle living with her husband, she’ll certainly have no problem dealing with middle schoolers.