We are writing in response to recent Wednesday Journal editorials questioning the merits of the just concluded District 200 Community Caucus. Collectively, we have chaired five caucuses and are dismayed that the caucus process has been tarnished. We acknowledge that no caucus is perfect or the same, since it reflects volunteers who are temporarily coming together for a defined purpose. On behalf of the numerous citizens who have given of their time and energies to serve on community caucuses, we feel compelled to identify, from our experiences, the traits embodied in a well-run caucus.
1) Representative. A caucus facilitates open dialogue among members of an entire community, enabling representatives to evaluate candidates holistically and identify those who will best serve the entire community’s needs.
2) Informative. The foundation of a caucus is the dissemination of information. An initial needs assessment identifies both strengths and needs of a school board going forward and forms a foundation for candidate evaluations. This information aids in assessing candidates’ skills and matching those skills to perceived future needs.
3) Process-oriented. A well-honed process, when followed, is begun in the fall preceding an election year and prior to election filing periods for the intended purpose of soliciting candidates, allowing time for education and information exchange, and providing an opportunity for all candidates to make their positions widely known.
4) Transparent. The community can and should hold a caucus accountable for its composition, process and candidate questions in order to validate that decisions have been made in the best interests of the entire community. Only the content of caucus deliberations and the names of unendorsed candidates are intended to be kept confidential.
5) Democratic. The caucus process informs, rather than obligates, a community about candidates endorsed by the caucus. The community makes its selections at the ballot box. Isn’t that what democracy is all about?
We sincerely hope the behavior of this year’s District 200 Caucus does not permanently blot the benefit derived from the caucus process over the years as it was not conducted in a manner that we can endorse. We can only hope this dialog will catalyze interest in the upcoming elections on April 17 and lead us all to the voter’s booth.
Julie Gilberto Brady
D90 Caucus chair, 2006
D90 Caucus chair, 2004
D90 Caucus chair, 2002
Merry Beth Kowalczyk
D90 Caucus chair, 2000
D90 Caucus chair, 1998