Vexing Texts | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Vexing Texts 

Know Your Candidates, It's Easy to Play Nice

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Vexing Texts
It's kind of like watching a family fight play out on reality TV. This, however, is anything but entertaining. The Salt Lake City School District is enmeshed in a bitter internal battle gone public, Fox13 News reports. Board members sent emails and texts that disparaged another board member, staff and some parents. It was a stunning reminder that everyone has opinions, and no one seems to have the ability—or good sense—to keep them private anymore. Whether this was just a really poor communication choice or a policy violation is yet to be determined. But it is a stark reminder that Utah has rules surrounding meeting protocol and access to government records. And for the sake of the community, discussions about how to open schools in a pandemic need to be public. And, surprise, surprise, they were.

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Know Your Candidates
Who will you vote for in your state school board race? Which judges are running? Do you even know who they are? "A Johns Hopkins University survey reveals that one-third of Americans can't name their governor and 80 percent can't name their state legislator," Governing.com reports. This doesn't bode well for down-ballot races, does it? The year 2020 will be the first when voters choose state school board members in partisan races. We're guessing that in red Utah, Republicans will have a leg up. Some organizations such as the Hinckley Institute of Politics have been trying to help. In early October, The Salt Lake Tribune ran an op-ed pointing voters to video debates. Nine people responded. The Trib noted that the GOP candidate for District 3 is the director of a charter school being investigated for not tracking $4 million in special ed funding. He may end up winning and administering $5.6 billion for state schools. District 11 has a right-winger who decries anti-racist training and anything but the "natural family."

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It's Easy to Play Nice
Well, hooray—we think—for Utah's two gubernatorial candidates standing up for civility. You know, civility—that thing Utahns keep calling for but just can't bring themselves to practice. In this campaign-ish ad, the two stand 6 feet apart and proclaim that they can disagree without being hateful. There are a couple of issues at play here, one being that neither candidate has anything to lose by being civil to the other. Spencer Cox has all but been anointed the next governor. CNN's Chris Cillizza noted that: "Short but cynical bit of context: Cox is heavily favored to win this race. Would the candidates do this sort of ad if the race were really close? I doubt it!" Then of course, there's the irony in Cox's unabashed support of Mr. Anti-civility himself, Donald Trump. And yet it's nice to see this ad go viral, and not in a virulent way.

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About The Author

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

Bio:
A City Weekly contributor since 1992, Biele is the informed voice behind our Hits & Misses and Citizen Revolt columns. When not writing, you can catch her working to empower voters and defend democracy alongside the League of Women Voters.

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