When did civic politics become such a nasty business?
We pondered that after finding out that Brent Atkinson, a school trustee for 31 years, has decided not to seek re-election in November.
On the one hand, it probably shouldn't come as a surprise. Atkinson has certainly put in more than his fair share of sitting in meetings, poring over reports, listening to parents and attending boring school recitals in drafty auditoriums.
He, has, as the saying goes, put in his time. But, on the other hand, the man is quitting before the new secondary school's foundation has been poured - a project that could be a crowning achievement for the school district. In other circumstances, we believe that Atkinson would have liked to stick around to see the school started. But he's worn out by all of the nasty political fighting - the kind of battles that have more to do with personal egos and power, party politics and just plain petty grandstanding than education.
Atkinson has always tried to stay away from all of the above. In fact, he has often stated very unpopular opinions. He nearly lost his seat in 2008 because, as he said on one issue, "I could care less how this looks politically." He rightly questioned decisions that allowed Hume Park elementary to continue despite it having just 23 students. However, he also kept his mind open to new proposals that would put students first.
His leadership is a significant loss in an education system that desperately needs people to put students truly first, not first as in a great slogan.
All of the candidates in this coming civic election should take a lesson from Atkinson and try to stay away from mudslinging and campaign tactics designed to play to voters' fears and cynicism.
It wears out good public servants such as Atkinson, and it reinforces the public's opinion that politics is just one big festering mess.