When my sons were very little I hoped to be the world’s coolest dad. I encouraged playdates and told parents, “Of course Ethan can come! Three other kids are coming. No worries!” Four hours later, as I wearily untied the empty paint cans from the ceiling fan, it became clear that I underestimated how hard it is to care for children.
I’m older now and I serve on the Santa Clara Unified School District Board of Trustees with my friend Jim Canova, who has served on the board for 27 years.
The grunge era, Dot Com boom (and subsequent bust), recession and a sometimes checkered roster of fellow school board members have all passed by while Jim helped care for 15,000 children. The small monthly stipend doesn’t come close to minimum wage and many of the decisions we make offer no great choices. At the same time, the decisions must be carefully considered because they affect 15,000 kids.
I have a lot of respect for Jim’s 27 years of service.
Jim’s running in the March 3 primary for the 25th Assembly District to become part of the body that helps pass laws for the state. I believe that we need the best candidate in each political position, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity—it doesn’t matter. I could care less if you are a purple unicorn in the Esquitarian Party (I made that up). If you are the most qualified candidate, I support you.
Qualifications are simple to define: experience, motivation, aptitude, tolerance, the ability to listen. The most qualified candidate has lived through hardships that voters experience and has a proven track record of service.
Most of all, the best candidate has the interests of all voters at heart.
Some candidates talk about their endorsements or highlight the hundreds of thousands of dollars they’ve raised. Large dollar amounts come from PACs and special interests and they want what’s best for themselves, not necessarily what’s best for voters. Buying a political office seems a bit obscene. Part of me wonders how many school lunches that money could buy, or provide clothes for kids who need them.
I know that may sound naïve and I’ve been told it takes a lot of money to get elected.
I don’t mind being called naïve. I was naïve to think that my sons and their friends wouldn’t try to paint the living room, but I’m glad they had fun and it all cleaned up.
Naïve is a brother to hopeful, and I hope people like Jim get elected. I hope you vote. I hope you vote based on ability and motivation rather than party, gender or race.
And I hope you’re hopeful too.
Mark Richardson serves alongside Jim Canova on the Santa Clara Unified School District Board of Trustees and volunteers with at-risk students at a school with no ceiling fans. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].