Far too often, politics and the spectacle accompanying them devolve into a culture of name-calling, denigration and downright bullying in order for candidates to build themselves up and tear their opponents down on a personal level.
Frankly, it’s something which far too often pervades in our society from the highest levels of government down to the common person on the street.
We’ve seen it time and time again and especially recently, with the last presidential campaign and several instances since.
It needs to change. And I believe what I’ve seen from many of Fort Bend County’s recent elections offers a peek into what these competitions could – and should – look like. I briefly touched on this at the end of last week’s column, but felt compelled to take a deeper dive in this one.
As you’ll see on our front page this week, I was able to speak with both Naushad Kermally and Nabila Mansoor, who are in a runoff for Sugar Land City Council’s Position 2. Over the last few weeks and months, I’ve gotten to interact with several candidates who squared off for three open positions on the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees as well as Stafford mayoral candidates A.J. Honore, Leonard Scarcella and others.
What I’ve found is this: Though many have a political background, these candidates are simply people at their core.
Included in the field are mothers and fathers with students in FBISD schools. Some are community advocates, present or former PTA presidents or former FBISD students. They are longtime residents of the areas where they are running for office.
From long-standing political giants to up and comers and every candidate in between, there has been no shortage of choices, much like most election cycles.
But these races seem different than any I’ve closely followed. There were no personal attacks that I have seen or found from my research. Nothing I turned up even hinted at the amount of vitriol I tend to expect with any race I follow either locally or nationally.
Maybe I’ve simply watched too much national coverage of those elections, which make up just a sliver of every election cycle, so I expect every race to be full of vitriol.
Or maybe I have not paid enough attention to local races around me, and this is the way they’ve always been.
Either way, it’s been a welcome breath of fresh air to learn about every candidate and their values and discern what makes them tick, without seeing it devolve into the depths of what I’ve seen coming out of Washington, D.C.
Obviously, each candidate has his or her own ideas about what is best for Fort Bend County, Stafford or Sugar Land. Even if they agree on a core obstacle or problem, there are typically slight variations on how to best implement change or build upon an existing foundation.
And you know what? That’s all right. Learning how to coexist and collaborate despite differences of opinion is – and will continue to be – a significant factor in Fort Bend County’s growth over the next 15-20 years.
Respectful coexistence is a necessary step in that process for any city, state or county and is something we could stand to take to heart to no matter where we live.
What matters is that the candidates of Fort Bend County elections who I’ve spoken with appear to have taken that to heart. At their core, they are Fort Bend County residents looking to make a difference in their communities, wherever they feel called to serve.
Numerous candidates for FBISD’s board races have stated publically that they will be longtime friends even now that the elections are over – and it just looks like more than hollow words.
As I spoke with Kermally and Mansoor, there was no hint of animosity, no unprovoked or out-of-the-blue shots at their opponent or their policies. They appear to know that what remains the most vital piece of the puzzle is the people of Sugar Land’s District 2.
What it boils down to is this: These races are about Fort Bend County’s well-being.
This is their home, these are their neighbors, and they want it to continue thriving. Which is exactly what residents look for in an elected official.
Now, the world is not all sunshine and daisies. These races are competitions, after all, and there will always be hard issues to tackle.
Lines still need to be drawn at certain points. I also know it’s likely that things may never change, that we may be too far down a vitriol-filled path of no return when it comes to many political races.
But I’ll go to my grave believing there is a firm middle ground between a passive pushover who never takes a hardline stance and a fire-and-brimstone type who tears down opponents.
There has to be a better way than sound bites we see on Fox News, CNN and other major news networks, which will always have their own spin on things to stir up controversy.
And why can’t that start at a grassroots level?
From what I have seen, this local election cycle has offered a glimpse into an ideal political world. Things can be accomplished – and progress made – without the hate that pervades far too many aspects of public life.
So Fort Bend County, keep up the good work. Continue being an example of what can be accomplished when those running for office remember their roots and who they’re running for.
Continue being the change that is so desperately needed.
Maybe future generations will take notice.