NOTE: Dean Rubine asked that this be posted to the blog. It is gladly reprinted below in its entirety. Thank you Dean for the contribution.
There’s been some talk that Tom Newkirk, Ed Charle, Al Howland, and Maria Barth are the candidates from FORE, or have some special relationship to FORE, or in some other way are a continuation of past boards that were dominated by FORE members. I want to state in no uncertain terms that they are not – they are independent from FORE and have stated many times that they will tru ly listen to all factions within the community. Each of them has expressed the desire to reduce the burden on taxpayers while maintaining excellent education. I know Dr. Charle has expressed support for a plan to give the superintendent wide latitude to reduce or hold the budget flat.
I first met Dr. Ed Charle after he put in his name in to run. When I asked him, he had only the vaguest idea of what FORE was, and didn't really have much of an idea of the recent history of the school board at all. It’s ludicrous to think that somehow he’s in cahoots with FORE, or owes them anything, or whatever other silly notions are being bandied about. . Dr. Charle is a fresh face, with no stake in the battles of the past. He is committed to looking at school board issues objectively from all angles.
The same goes for Maria Barth. She’s my neighbor, and I talked to her shortly after she decided to run. She didn't know who or what a FORE was. I asked her why she wanted to run. She said she’d recently become aware of some of the questionable doings of the current board, and said, “Someone ought to do something about this.” She said whenever she told her mother “someone ought to do something” her mother would reply “if you really mean it, that someone should be you.” This simple idea has led Maria to a life of public service, including 11 years as chairman of the Kittery school board. Luckily for us, she's running for our board this time. She too has no stake in the battles of the past, and will bring a fresh, experienced perspective to our issues. I know that she has initiated meetings with members of the community from all sides of the debate. I am certain she brings no agenda to the table beyond doing what is best for the schools and the community.
I’ve met Al Howland and Tom Newkirk a couple of times, but I’ve never asked them, so I can’t comment in detail about their relationship with FORE. I checked the FORE website, and neither of them are members. I’ve heard both talk passionately about listening to all of the community, of healing the community, of bringing us together, and so on. I am confident that they are not lackeys for FORE or any other group.
As I hope people know by now, I call all four candidates the T.E.A.M. – Tom, Ed, Al, and Maria. I repeat it over and over because in the voting booth I want voters to be able to recall their names, or at least their first initials to match against the choices. I’m assuming many voters are like I was last year – I was oblivious the entire year, and on Election Day I spent a few minutes on the Internet figuring out who and what to vote for. Anything that helps voters remember who's who is good.
Many members of the community, including members of FORE, are justifiably concerned with the poor judgment shown by the incumbents, whether it be the divisive tweets, the lawbreaking, or any of the myriad of actions that have given rise to so much angst this past year. It’s only natural that members of FORE, who have been quite vocal when they perceive injustice, would support the candidates running against the incumbents. It helps that those candidates happen to be a great group, and I am really hopeful they can get the district back on track. Many people support the T.E.A.M., so I don’t think anything in particular should be read into the fact that some members of FORE also support them.
Let me also say that I myself have nothing to with FORE, other than occasionally reading a post. I’m not a member. My wife is not a member. I’ve been trying to remember if I've ever commented on a FORE post – I can’t recall any in particular, but maybe once or twice. I've commented far more frequently here on oysterrivercommunity.blogsplot.com. I am my own person, and I have my own issues with the board. My main concern is Mr. Kach’s tweets - I think they are vile and divisive, and unworthy of a representative of our district. I am hopeful that Tuesday (that may be today, readers) the voters will agree. Similarly, Chairman Brackett’s failure to condemning the tweets is a serious failure of leadership, right up there with his serial lawbreaking when he engaged a secret lawyer who sent secret bills to his house, and he held secret meetings and secret votes to do a secret buyout, the public’s right to know be damned. This is not my idle speculation, but the decisions of two New Hampshire judges in two separate cases. Election Day is the day we get to replace them with the T.E.A.M. – vote for Tom, Ed, Al and Maria.
So, rather than a whisper campaign about this candidate being part of that group, let’s make the election about the very serious issues facing the board. Whether you like the current board or not, I think we can all agree that last year has been difficult. Mr. Kach and Mr. Brackett have had their chance, and now everybody’s mad and nobody trusts each other. I think the best hope for the district is to put all that behind us and move ahead with fresh faces.
Whatever the outcome of the election, I for one am looking forward to never again typing another word about Jim Kach’s tweets or the board’s lawsuits. One way or another, the community will decide on Election Day, and I will respect that decision. Until then, there’s still time for voters to read more of my musings on the school board and the election at ORCSDcleanslate.org. Thanks for reading this far everybody, and don’t forget to VOTE.
Very truly yours,
Dean Rubine, Lee