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The Sun editorial: Time to resolve our personal issues

HAMBURG — I would like to congratulate the village of Hamburg officials who were involved in last week’s political election on refraining from mudslinging and personal attacks.

Nearly every election that I have been able to cover through my journalistic career has been rift with name-calling, accusations and back-and-forth he-said, she-said remarks.

We tend to think of this type of behavior as the new status quo. It’s election season again, so get out the umbrellas, because the negativity is going to start raining down on us.

But that is not what it should be about. Running for office should not be a negative, angry affair. The people and their needs should not be put on the sidelines in favor of dirty politics and ruthless climbs to the top.

And Hamburg village officials seem to get that.

Yes, last week’s Hamburg election involved mostly uncontested races. But perhaps that is because residents of the village are satisfied with the level of service that they receive and are grateful to the existing officials for the work that they have done.

After all, if it’s not broken, why fix it?

But there was one contested race in Hamburg.

Both of the candidates for village justice were careful to keep their campaigns positive and free of accusations against their opponents. One specifically told me that he was refusing to take any personal attacks; regardless of the outcome, he wanted to run a clean campaign.

That is such a refreshing thing to hear, and an even more encouraging thing to see followed through.

Unfortunately, Hamburg residents have seen more than their share of political negativity; it now comes from all sides, thanks to murmuring on the town board level and unrest at the school board table.

We are told, again and again, whose fault something was. An argument broke out because one of the board members disagreed with a resolution. Someone pointed fingers at another individual’s family member, so a board member walked out of a meeting, leaving no quorum. One board member called another a rude name, so everyone else decided that it was a free-for-all.

Hold the phone. What happened to serving the people? When did politics stop being about doing right and start becoming about looking out for No. 1?

How can anything get done, when our elected officials are so focused on themselves?

When I walk into the Hamburg Village Hall for bimonthly village board meetings, I am greeted by a lineup of virtues extolled by the Character Council of Hamburg.

Village Mayor Thomas Moses Sr. takes time out of every village board meeting to name one of those virtues and explain what it means, to the audience. I can tell that he not only cares about cultivating these virtues in himself, he also hopes that each of the village trustees, as well as the gathered public, takes them to heart.

This month’s virtue was tolerance. Tolerance is realizing and accepting that everyone is at varying levels of character development and maturity.

Juxtapose that idea with recent reports that have come out of other local boardrooms.

Resolutions have been laid by the wayside because people refused to agree with fellow officials they did not like. Names were called. People were yelled at. Sides were taken and business was stalled.

Meanwhile, tolerance ceased and compromise was forgotten.

We will never all agree on everything. One of the beauties of our American political system is that we don’t have to. But there is a fair, balanced, civil way to express disagreement, and I have found that not everyone we have chosen to represent us has decided to be so tolerant of others.

It is my sincere hope that the town and school board members can put their differences aside and work together for the good of our school and community. Hamburg is a wonderful place, full of opportunity.

But without good leadership, a municipality or school system can sustain itself for only so long.

It is time to get the focus back on track. Elected officials, remember how much the students, parents, homeowners, taxpayers, voters and business owners of Hamburg depend on you. Focus your energies on the good of the community and let’s work together to move Hamburg forward, into a better tomorrow.

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