I want to respond to a story in the Sept. 5 ThisWeek Westerville News & Public Opinion regarding three Westerville Board of Education candidates who opted out of the Westerville Education Association's endorsement process.
To the Editor:
I want to respond to a story in the Sept. 5 ThisWeek Westerville News & Public Opinion regarding three Westerville Board of Education candidates who opted out of the Westerville Education Association's endorsement process. The story was accurate as far as it went, but left out the central point of the issue because I was not contacted by the reporter. Please let me explain what was overlooked.
The Code of Ethics which governs our school board states that members are to "avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance thereof." WEA traditionally campaigns for and elects board members with whom it then negotiates its contracts, a clear conflict of interest for the board members. It leaves the student, the parent and the electorate on the outside of their quid pro quo.
When we received WEA's invitation to interview for its endorsement, Jim Burgess, John Sodt and I contacted the other five candidates in the race. We pointed out that anyone elected to the board must abide by the Code of Ethics, and that this conflict can exist only if the candidates permit it. We asked that each of them join us in declining the endorsement offer, and in running for office in a manner consistent with the ethics requirement. A copy of this letter can be found on our website, ForResponsibleChange.com.
As an employee of a large international company, I am expected to obey its code of conduct. Should I deliberately violate it, the company would terminate my employment without hesitation. Those running for and holding elective office should be held to a higher standard. Representing the public is a matter of trust which should not be taken lightly. If the rules of conduct are not taken seriously during the campaign, why should the public expect different behavior following election?
If I am missing something which justifies this conflict of interest I hope one of the five candidates who participated in the endorsement process will explain my error to the public. A letter in next week's newspaper will be most welcome.
candidate, Westerville Board of Education