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GannettUSA Today

Monday, April 10, 2006

No cause for boycott

The four Wall Board of Education candidates on the Four for Wall team who planned to boycott a candidates' forum tonight because some of its organizers are supporting their opponents are missing out on a chance to make their best case. Every public forum offers candidates a valuable opportunity to explain why they should be elected, even to a hostile audience. And it's pretty hard to snub one sponsored by the Wall High School Booster Association and the district's PTOs. Staying away makes their boycott the issue rather than what's best for the district.

Of course, these organizers' very public support of other candidates casts doubt about the objectivity of the sponsoring groups. They are surely entitled to express their views, but those who are officers should have waited until after the forum or kept their preference to themselves altogether. Try as they might, it's hard to separate an officer's organizational and personal allegiances. That's why forum organizers often turn to a nonpartisan group such as the League of Women Voters to moderate or even sponsor a forum.

The Four for Wall slate claims that the event sponsors are injecting partisan politics into a school board election for the first time. Oh, really! Even casual board election observers in most towns know that just because there are no political party labels doesn't mean the parties aren't paying close attention. Too much money and too many employees are at stake.


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