Most every election year seems to have its share of the throwing of elbows as candidates attempt to convince voters they are by far more qualified than their measly opponent.
However, this election has a level of nastiness on both sides that has most voters looking forward to the relief of when it all ends the morning after the election.
My name was on a ballot three times when I was on my local school board. Generally, these are elections among friends with little or usually no opposition.
Towards the end of my second term, our school was suffering from a loss in funding so severe we were in a position of not only having cutbacks in programs, but eliminating teaching positions.
Iowa law allows for an enrichment levy, that once receiving 60 percent voter approval, will impose a surcharge on property taxes of around 5 percent to raise money to avoid those cuts.
I took it upon myself to hold three community meetings to inform the voters of what our school district was facing, what the levy would cost them, and how it would be put to use. The other side was that if the levy failed, they would have been warned about what the next steps would be for our education program.
A local man decided to oppose me in the election that was going to be held in a few months. He sat with the members of the community during the meetings and when I asked for questions, he decided to ask some questions.
The nature of his questions revealed he was there in an attempt to embarrass me. I kept my composure and answered his questions good-naturedly when deep inside I wanted to tell him where to get off.
A few days after one of the meetings, a local businessman crossed paths with me and he said the local group of coffee drinkers (which included my opponent) met the morning after one of my meetings.
This businessman, I believe, had arrived in the United States from Eastern Europe. After many years, his accent remained firmly in place and it was fun to listen to him to him talk. And he loved to talk.
This businessman told me he asked my opponent about his line of questioning at the meeting saying, “Vaht vere trying to do?”
My opponent said he was just trying clear things up.
The business man then asked him,”Vell, den, vaht do you do ven you vant to mess tings up?”
The enrichment levy failed (it wasn’t even close), the school board cut programs and eliminated teaching positions, and I was re-elected.
A few years later I was talking to this same businessman and recounted what he had told me about the morning meeting with my opponent and how much I enjoyed the memory and his friendship.
I could tell as he listened to me with a slight smile on his face, that he had no memory of that event. He had forgotten it. I hadn’t.
And thirty years later, I still haven’t.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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