by Lara Dedmon
As we look towards the general election day for 2022 there are a few thoughts I wanted to share. My perspective comes from who I am; a mom, speech-language pathologist, educator of children, and recent candidate for the Hernando County School board. My reasons for running in this most recent primary election mainly revolved around my love of children and education and my faith in God. Politics was never an aspiration of mine, running for an elected position was something I felt led to do because protecting and educating children is something I’ve done for almost 20 years. It started with my children and spread to every child I taught in my professional career. Now that I’ve experienced a short but eventful season in politics, I’ve come away with a new insight regarding some of our community’s concerns with our public school system as well as my own personal voting ideals.
We are blessed as citizens of the United States of America to have the right to vote. There are some who have lost that right due to errors in judgment or outright disregard for the law which resulted in an arrest, conviction, and revocation of their right to vote. For these individuals, if they want that right returned, they
have to “earn it”. In my campaign, I talked with some of these individuals, and those who chose the long and expensive road to earn back that right, say they will never take it for granted again. It’s a right as well as a privilege. So, as we ready ourselves to vote in this upcoming general election for our county, state, and congressional representatives I believe there are a few things that should be remembered.
Let me start by saying in my run for school board, I spent a lot of time talking with people in our county. Whether going door to door or attending local events or speaking in forums at different venues, it was interesting and educational to hear from so many in our community that have concerns and opinions regarding the public school system. What it boiled down to for most of the people that I talked to was “values”. Whether it was frustrations with the considerations for their special needs child or the challenges with the busing shortage or fears that CRT and sexuality were being taught in the schools – one thing was clear, these parents and grandparents wanted to ensure that their children were not only given proper academic teaching but that their children’s values and their parental rights were being protected.
In such a heated political climate nationally, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish fact from fiction regarding what we hear. There are statements in national and local news as well as within our community that have plunked us into different camps of thought. And we pitch our tents and hang out there in our political parties of choice (though there are definitely non-partisan voters)… BUT the truth is, though that can be conducive in the partisan races so that you can vote on clear policies…I believe we should be careful with the non-partisan race for our school board.
From what I understand, the goal of having nonpartisan elections for a school board is not to remove all politics from governing, but rather to remove a conflict point that keeps the school board from doing its job.
Conflict on a governing board can be productive when it leads to informed debate and reasoned decision-making. Conflict is destructive when it becomes solely political and predictable regardless of the issue being discussed.
So, just as I felt compelled to do something out of my comfort zone and run for school board, I feel it’s important to come out and voice my thoughts regarding this upcoming election.
Values and virtues – that is where I land when it comes to voting. My being a Christian is more important than my choice of a political party. Therefore, when it comes to voting, now more than ever, I feel convicted to vote values. It’s important because what you believe regarding values dictates the decisions you make. And when it comes to making decisions regarding our children – the values and character of those we vote into their respective office, matter!
I’m not sure where this originates from…but some of you may have heard this… “Thoughts Become Words, Words Become Actions, Actions Become Habits, Habits Become Character and Character Becomes Your Destiny.” This is a reminder to me how important it is to vote “values” when we vote for our elected officials. Their thoughts can dictate their character…values…and choices they make for you and me…which can ultimately affect OUR destiny.
On that note, here is a compilation of the values that I heard and discussed with many people that I met doing door to doors in my campaigning days:
Self-discipline, diligence, perseverance, patience, service to and respect for others, accountability, civic responsibility, kindness, and honesty (always seeking what is true and right).
I truly believe that the most important step we can take towards having the best school system, county, state, and country is to vote for values, virtues, and character in this upcoming general election.
So, if you do your homework and look into the true character and values of each candidate you’ll be able to see how they will vote on issues that go deeper than just their political party persuasion. Looking at what they DO not just what they say, looking at the whole person within the context of who they are and how they act.
I realize many of you readers are seasoned voters, but I believe knowledge is power and reminders never hurt…so I say these things to myself as much as I say them to you. Because as the title of my opinion piece implies, I try to look at each life experience and truly LEARN from it. If that experiential knowledge helps me help anyone else, I’m grateful.
I’d like to leave you with one last quote… I believe it sums up what is needed for our children and for ourselves.
“We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Martin Luther King Jr.