Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Interrupted Election - Too Soon Success


I woke this morning to the news that incumbent Bill Eddy has dropped his bid for the Kansas City Missouri School District, clearing the way for Airick Leondard West to take over the seat.

Normally, this would be great news. I was backing Airick Leonard West as soon as he announced his candidacy, and, even before that, I had written of my admiration of his "audacious and simple" attempts to improve life in The Viable Third. I am a sponsor for a fundraiser for Airick tonight.

So, why am I disappointed in Airick's premature success?

Because this race was never about defeating Bill Eddy. Indeed, I appreciate Bill Eddy - he's one of the good people on the Board with his eye steadfastly on the prize of improving education for Kansas Citians. And, oddly enough, my enthusiastic support of Airick Leonard West would not have been hugely disappointed if he lost his election - so long as he ran a good race and made people think about the KCMSD as their issue in their community.

Without the urgency and drama of an election, it will be easier to put the KCMSD in the back of our minds, and view the problems and crises of our School District as someone else's issues. If you don't happen to have a child in the School District, you can shake your head and blame the problems on others. If you do have a child in the District, you can do your best to get him or her into one of the best schools, and ignore the bigger problems.

That's the status quo that Airick Leonard West was running to upset. Airick Leonard West was running against the apathetic, uninvolved, utterly divested status quo - not against Bill Eddy.

And that is why I hope (and suspect) the campaign is not over. I hope that the fundraisers and rallies on Airick Leonard West's calendar become Community forums, and those of us who were willing to call friends to attend those fundraisers will call those same friends to come out and discuss a vision for the future of the KCMSD.

Often, candidates are urged to declare victory before the decision is complete. In this instance, Airick Leonard West cannot declare victory, even though the battle has been won, because his opponent was never on the ballot. His opponent was apathy and the feeling of many Kansas Citians that the KCMSD is not their problem. Indeed, Bill Eddy's withdrawal from the race has strengthened Airick Leonard West's real opponent, and I hope the real campaign continues . . .

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5 Comments:

Blogger Airick Leonard W said...

I could not have described the situation more clearly; Dr Eddy's withdrawal is a loss for the district and its students.

And yes, the campaign will continue to move forward with escalating urgency.

3/04/2008 10:23 AM  
Blogger Do you see me? said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/04/2008 10:24 AM  
Blogger Do you see me? said...

you are right on the money Dan. Eddy quitting is a victory for apathy and the lack of accountability.School Board members do not want to do the heavy lifting of engaging the community to build consensus. Then they wonder why they bicker amongst themselves. I hope everyone will stay engaged in the conversation. It's the only way to make an improvement on the School Board. Changing the structure won't make a difference if the people that matter are not participating. I know Airick will keep talking and walking.

3/04/2008 10:26 AM  
Anonymous monsignor hudson said...

Eddy's "as I see it column" today is quite interesting.

A bunch of people speaking with passion in a room is one thing. Having and articulating a clear path from governance-to-making the changes-that-need-to-happen is a whole nother ballgame.

Which do we have going on here? And in which direction do we need to move people? I suspect the latter.

3/05/2008 9:30 PM  
Anonymous inafunkaboutthefunk said...

Maybe Eddy can become the new Funkhouser Campaign Committee Treasurer?

3/08/2008 8:46 PM  

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