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On the Loss of the Douglas County School Board   November 13th, 2017
Board was warned years ago       

 
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There has been a lot of commenting on the reasons for last week’s loss of the Douglas County School Board to union-supported candidates. I’ve seen some say the campaigns were bad, others think establishment Republicans are to blame, and yet others are blaming Republicans citizens for not voting.

What nobody is saying--but which I think needs to be said--is that the conservative school board has, in recent years, been highly ineffective at doing much of anything other than repeatedly shooting itself in the foot.

The board implemented a host of reforms in 2010, but the reforms were implemented extremely poorly. For most voters, a good idea implemented poorly is indistinguishable from a bad idea. If you’re going to institute ground-breaking changes into any skeptical industry, you better make sure those ideas are implemented effectively and not just mandated, delegated, and neglected.

When I was county party chairman, I met with board leadership in July 2013. I told them that reforms were being implemented poorly and offered some suggestions after meeting with a number of teachers in the district and vetting their concerns with solid conservatives who were well informed on those issues (to filter out complaints that may have been just opposition talking points). I warned board leadership that if the implementation of reforms wasn’t drastically improved, there could be an electoral impact.

We still won four months later in 2013, but as far as I can tell there was never any action taken to improve the implementation of the reforms. With no improvements made to implementation, no new reforms to excite reform voters, and with a series of self-inflicted PR disasters created by board leadership, it's not surprising that the bottom fell out two years later.

I'm disappointed by the results of the 2015 and 2017 elections. I'm concerned that the cause of good reforms may have been set back years--if not decades. But I was not at all surprised that the county voted the way it did in 2015 and again this year. Board leadership was warned repeatedly by multiple individuals over the years and our warnings and advice were largely ignored.

Conservatives have long said we need to hold our elected officials accountable. But that can't just mean we hold opposition elected officials accountable. We have to hold our preferred elected officials accountable, too, or the community will do it for us... like they did in these last two school board elections.

This may not be a popular point of view, but in recent years there’s been a lot of denial of reality among conservatives--not just locally, but at the state and national level, too.

If we are to have any hope of fixing things, we need to engage in a little reflection and be honest about what we’ve done wrong--and commit to doing it right before we ask the voters once again to vote for us.

And that, too, doesn’t just apply locally--it applies at the state and national level as well.

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