School board elections are normally sleepy affairs, often not even contested.

This year that’s all changed, and in some ways, that’s positive. There are six people running for three seats, the number having been trimmed from nine in the August primary. Interest in the local public school system is certainly welcome, since it has long been a strong community asset.

The trouble is that this non-partisan election has been swallowed up from the beginning by partisan politics. Clearly the directive coming from national party operatives has been to try to use wedge issues — mask and vaccine requirements, and teaching about so-called “critical race theory” — to rile up voters. Republicans at the national level have made that the agenda.

Democrats locally, meanwhile, have promoted a ticket of candidates in response. On the local level, it was the Democrats who started it.

Our instinct would be to direct you to candidates who fit into neither camp, but unfortunately that’s not logistically possible. There are only six candidates, three on each side, and they’re all infected in some fashion..

So it gets back, as it probably should, to who is best qualified, and how to create a school board with a variety of viewpoints, with members who can work well together. We offer some guidance in the event that you haven’t already made up your mind.

The candidates include only one incumbent, Karla Hagemeister, who has worked diligently and effectively. No reason to turn her out.

Jayme Morris-Hardeman, meanwhile, has also demonstrated her ability to work well in public office, having served as a city commissioner a few years back.

That leaves a difficult choice among the challengers seeking office for the first time: Betty Mattingly-Ebert, Teresa Parks, Steven Ruzzin and Christine Weixelman.

Here’s where we’ll throw it over to you.

Ms. Mattingly-Ebert, a business owner, would bring that perspective to the board, and would provide a conservative perspective that would, among other things, preserve the current high school mascot. Ms. Parks, meanwhile, would bring the perspective of a career transition readiness specialist for Flint Hills Job Corps. She is a graduate of MHS and a parent of graduates, as well. Both women appear prepared, with a record of involvement, and it just comes down to your preference on what direction you like for the school board.

Whoever is elected will join Darell Edie, Curt Herrman, Brandy Santos and Kristin Brighton. However you want to categorize them, they’ve all done a solid job of overseeing an administration that runs an excellent school system. Our hope is that, despite the currently toxic partisan environment, that basic orientation will survive.

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