Local Candidacies in Whitewater, 2020

There are six public seats up for election in Whitewater this spring (three on the Whitewater Common Council and three on the Whitewater Unified School District’s board.) It seems there are six candidates for these six offices (five incumbents and one former officeholder). This is what one would expect of government in Whitewater over these recent years: one year looking similar to the last one.

Some nearby towns have seen greater interest in officeholding; Whitewater has seen less.

Six candidates or sixty, the principal challenge for government in Whitewater is that a public body with individually talented people often produces collectively less than one might expect (or even hope). It’s the opposite of a synergy; collectives here often achieve less than what one might expect considering their strongest members’ abilities. See Whitewater’s Major Public Institutions Produce a Net Loss (And Why It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way).

At the local school district, this is especially evident: a school board that does not review that night’s administrative presentations before the meeting – that, in fact, hasn’t even seen these presentations – can set neither a good example nor expect accountability from others.

Neither school board members, nor centralized administrators, nor principals are drafted into service — these are positions freely chosen from among a marketplace of occupations. When others see that less is exerted in oversight, they will offer less in effort. Over time, they will come to think that whatever they offer, however inadequate, is as though a gift to students and parents, and that the community should be grateful.

Professional services should meet a professional standard; no one owes professionals their sloth. Patients shouldn’t accept a doctor like that, clients shouldn’t accept a lawyer like that, and students and parents shouldn’t accept a lesser standard, either.

The district’s significant challenges will require significant energy and commitment.

For city government, business as usual runs the longstanding problem of ignorant-but-entitled development men (helped by a catspaw or two on the Whitewater Common Council) insisting that they should have pride of place, after years of self-promotion during of years of stagnation.

(They are likely, however, to prowl about even now for more subsidized deals, and special tax districts, at public expense. It’s what they are, and it’s what they’ll do.)

There are, surely, creative and vigorous pursuits in Whitewater. Most of these involve independent merchants or private charitable efforts that realistically address the city’s needs.

Slowly, Whitewater’s diverse communities (and the city is now evidently and undeniably heterogeneous) have begun to look beyond government for expression and meaning. This has been a gradual process for Whitewater, but the city has been moving in that direction (with some pauses and retrograde motion along the way).

Social evolution like this should be allowed to continue, although a disappointed few may do what they can to stop this natural transformation.

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