The 2020 campaign cycle for local offices is well underway, and so far, when compared to our recent past, discourse on social media has been fairly tame. Good for all of us!
This is not to say we haven't called each other out and spun stories to our side's advantage, but that is the nature of campaigning, right? As we approach the final days before the election, I want to remind everyone to 'keep it classy'.
That said, one trend I hope doesn't get out of hand as April 7th approaches is the propensity of some to disparage Mr. Stephens for his spelling, grammar, and lack of a college degree. While I do not support Mr. Stephens' bid for mayor, I believe he is essentially a good, civic-minded person who does not deserve to be debased in this manner. IMO, such attacks, like name calling by a school yard bully, are base actions that have no place in adult civil discourse.
While we need-not completely avoid such topics on the campaign trail, discussion should be limited to impacts on policies and leadership abilities rather than used simply as a lever to disparage. Furthermore, IMO, these short comings do not correlate substantially or directly to a person's ability to form and express meaningful opinions or lead in government.
Regarding grammar and spelling, a more relevant discussion is whether or not he can effectively communicate in writing. When I read Mr. Stephens' postings, I have no trouble understanding what he is saying. I can easily comprehend his intention from the context, regardless of his mixing up there/their, then/than, your/you're, misplaced/missing punctuation, and so on. So, ask yourself if his spelling is so awful as to exceed your ability to read and comprehend. If not, then he successfully communicated and there is no need to troll.
Effective writing is a great skill for anyone to possess, and for public officials, effective communication is important. Councilman Joe Garritano does a great job of crafting beautifully written newsletters. I appreciate his efforts. While I enjoy the details provided in Joe's invaluable newsletters, I have to admit they sometimes take a long time to read. In contrast, Mr. Stephens often posts short bullet point summaries of council meetings that I can read and glean the gist in under a minute. Both are effective communications, each in their own way.
Regarding education, there is more to intelligence than a diploma. I'm a degreed engineer with a Masters, and I'm not a bit ashamed to admit to being schooled more than a few times by the craftsmen and women who build the product. In fact, I often actively seek their advice because they are often highly intelligent in ways not available to me through academic learning.
Formal higher education is not necessarily correlated to intelligence or leadership ability. My dad was mechanically gifted and a highly successful business owner, yet he struggled in school, graduated late from High School and lacked an advanced degree. He was self-conscious of his poor spelling, which was so bad that it often befuddled the spell checking functions on computers. Yet, he proved to be a highly talented, well-respected businessman and leader, anyway.
Is it valid to ask candidates how their education and experience contributes to their ability to lead? Absolutely. But don't dismiss a person simply on the basis of not having a degree. There is no requirement for our mayor to be degreed. And, if you think a working man or woman is 'lower' merely because he/she lacks a degree, then you don't understand 'education'.
There are a lot of reasons to vote (or not) for a mayoral candidate: voting record ... platform ... executive experience ... past statements or actions ... experience in government ... trust ... character ... emotional stability ... political alliances ... and more. But whatever drives you, let it not be pettiness and inconsequential nitpicking. Let your decision be thoughtful and relevant to the job at hand. As such, let our discussions, promotions, and attempts to persuade be similarly thoughtful, relevant, and above all, respectful to human dignity.
Repeating the sentiments from the opening paragraph: I believe we, the community of Wildwood, are doing pretty well this season keeping it civil as we engage. Let's take that road all the way to election day! The City of Wildwood is a great place to live and call home. Thanks for the opportunity to express my thoughts.