This may not be the most popular opinion with some and I’m perfectly okay with that.
Monday night, however, as I searched the web for election results, I was both conflicted as well as inspired by the results I found.
The election I was searching was the Oakdale Joint Unified School District board election for the vacant seat of Trustee Area 2. Following along since mail in ballots have been collected, it became clear early on that it would be anyone’s race as votes for both Terri Taylor and Eric Kjeldgaard continued to fluctuate.
While I knew it would be close, never did I foresee a tie of all things, yet there it is. A total vote between two counties of 402 to 402. Now sure I can say plenty about the 3,000 who abstain from voting, that’s discouraging. Yet it is also politics as they say and sadly not totally surprising.
Yet the two candidates had given it their all by way of campaigning in the way they best felt represented them and what they stood for.
So now as we wait to see what the final outcome from the board will be, I feel it’s important to point out a little bit of the obvious.
Both candidates, Taylor and Kjeldgaard, are more than qualified to properly represent their given Trustee Area. Both represent extensive backgrounds in education, human resources, as well as parenting. Both are parents of OJUSD students, both care personally about decisions made for the families of OJUSD.
Contrary to what many may say, criticize, or laugh about; we don’t live in an everybody gets a trophy world, when it comes to this decision.
Personally speaking, I did not endorse a specific candidate this time through. Professionally speaking we can’t, personally speaking I have in the past. This, however, was different for my personally as I believe in them both and felt neither would be a bad choice.
As I woke Monday morning, I shared that thought with a friend. Our students and their families are fortunate that two community members of this caliber gave so much of themselves for this position of service. At the end of it all, that’s what it boils down to. Two individuals so passionate for OJUSD and our students that they put it all on the line to serve.
Who will take that seat, remains to be seen. But as community members discuss the ins and outs of it over the days which follow, I hope that there will be some recognition, as well as admiration for what these two have done.
Once that time has passed, I hope that parents continue to pay attention to these once a month meetings, because they matter.
They may not always be exciting or dramatic, they haven’t been for many years until this thing called COVID, but important things happen at these meetings.
As a parent I found it both embarrassing and disappointing that so many who showed up via You Tube during the social distancing and then in person when meetings resumed, were so unaware of proper meeting protocol.
My hope is that this Special Election gives us all an opportunity to reset, as well as reconnect and recognize at the end of the day we all want the same thing – what’s best for the students.
So now we wait.
To Taylor and Kjeldgaard, I’d like to personally offer a thank you and job well done. Not everyone was nice during this process. Keyboard warriors remain alive and well, yet the two of you continued on, rising with style and grace; focused on the goal at hand. Regardless of the outcome, as a community, we win.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.