The following is an op-ed by columnist Elizabeth Porter for her column, “The Final Word.” All of the opinions and viewpoints expressed within the article are solely that of the author and may not reflect the beliefs of The Forest Scout newspaper.
For those of you who have not heard, all four Right Track candidates were elected to the school board this past week. This is a tremendous victory for the candidates, their voters, devoted supporters within the community, the caucus, the people of Lake Bluff and Lake Forest, and for myself personally.
The results showed a definitive decision by the voters. It was not close. There were approximately 3 caucus votes per every 1 Final Four vote.
Voter turnout was very high compared to past off-year elections. Voters in the community clearly took this election seriously and understood how much was at stake.
They say winners write history, but there are always valuable lessons to be learned from the losers. I think it’s safe to say that this election proves that people in this community trust the caucus, but that there is a relevant desire for change. The Final Four said that at least they were giving voters a choice. They’re not wrong about that. They did give voters a choice–a very important choice–which is responsible for the high voter turnout, because without the Final Four, there would have been four candidates for four positions. That’s not really an election, that’s an appointment.
I still believe the Final Four would not have been effective school board members, but they did force us to be better. They increased voter turnout which is a hallmark of any successful democracy. They forced the Right Track candidates to be on their A-game and defend themselves. They made this election something that people cared about, educated themselves about, and worked for. They mobilized members of the population who never would have cared about the school board to organize, canvas, write articles, and be involved. They brought up issues that many people probably hadn’t considered. And while Right Track voters may not have agreed with a single thing the Final Four said, they did take a moment to learn more about LFHS and the school system. They forced citizens of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff to evaluate our shared values and they brought voters of all political affiliations together. So while this outcome–a Right Track victory– is definitely the best outcome from my personal vantage point, we can thank the Final Four for forcing us as a community to do better.
I think the best lesson we can learn from the Final Four is that a little opposition is healthy. Maybe some of them would have passed caucus vetting, maybe they wouldn’t have. But if they had run as individuals against the caucus, not as a slate, it would have been okay in my opinion if one of them had been elected. A difference of opinion and some “outsider” influence on the school board would not have been a bad thing. Their problem was running as a slate and spreading misinformation. That is not okay.
While we share a communal sigh of relief and enjoy this outcome, let us not forget what we can learn from the Final Four. Together–as a community–we can do great things. We agree on a lot more that we disagree on, regardless of politics. A little opposition is a good thing. But thankfully, they watched something great unfold, which is something we can all be proud of.