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Editorial: Is This Year’s Syosset School Board Campaign Too Contentious?

Around the neighborhood and online, there’s been a fair amount of talk that this year’s Syosset School Board election has involved a lot of name-calling, mudslinging, and other less-than-perfectly-civil behavior. Personally, I’ve seen more complaining about alleged name-calling than actual name-calling, but I can’t be everywhere: for all I know, the campaign is triggering energetic brawls behind Mario’s Pizza. I highly doubt it, but one never knows.

However, I think we have to keep in mind that after having uncontested elections for several years, we’ve all been a bit isolated from what an election of this nature can actually be like. Discussion of substantive issues can get a little heated, as well it should: we don’t want robots pronouncing their campaign ambitions in a monotone, we want actual residents who have different opinions about how best to educate our children cost-effectively. We also want them to be passionate enough about their beliefs that they won’t just clam up the moment someone disagrees with them. Arguments aren’t necessarily pleasant, but we want candidates who are at least willing to argue, and that’s what we have this year.

Is the election this year really all that contentious? Or is this just what happens when people who care disagree? We could always be more civil toward one another, but I think some of the friction we see when we finally discuss issues that have been smoldering under the surface is not only to be expected, but even welcome.

By the time you read this, Meet the Candidates Night at South Woods Middle School will already be over, but for me it hasn’t happened yet; I hope the whole thing doesn’t degenerate into a chair-throwing extravaganza, which would undermine my whole point here. Then again, the chairs in the South Woods Auditorium bolt into the floor, so we’re probably safe.