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Published June 14 2012

Forum editorial: A winner is a winner is a winner

There’s some grumbling among the losers in Tuesday’s Fargo School Board election that the incumbents won with very small individual percentages of the vote. True enough. But when 11 candidates seek to fill four openings, that’s the way the numbers fall.

The results, however, should be looked at differently. The four re-elected incumbents piled up an unofficial total of 54.2 percent of all votes cast. In other words, a majority of voters supported incumbents who were seeking re-election to second, third and fourth terms. It’s not like the winners were unknowns.

Well, say the critics, individually the highest winning vote-getter still garnered only 15.6 percent of the vote, and the lowest winner pulled down only 11.2 percent of the vote. They seem to conclude, therefore, that the winners somehow don’t really have support among school district patrons.

If that’s the argument, then the challengers can be hoisted on their own petard. After all, not one finished in double digits. The top losing candidate won only 7.9 percent of the vote, and the bottom finisher managed only 3.7 percent. Given those numbers, who among the losers can honestly claim the incumbent winners were not winners?

The two issues most of the challengers used to criticize incumbents were the Bluestem/Trollwood mess and financing of the new Davies High School. Neither had the traction to force change on the board.

First, a candid assessment of the history of the Bluestem situation can only conclude that the board acted in good faith a few years ago to help realize the new Bluestem/Trollwood vision. Mistakes were made, but they were not exclusive to the board. And Trollwood still has deep support in the community, and the board understands that.

Second, Davies went ahead only after years of planning and public involvement in dozens of well-attended special meetings. The sentiment for the new school was overwhelming in large part because district patrons previously had made it clear they did not want high schools to get too large. The result is a beautiful school that already is providing more opportunities for more students in every aspect of education, sports and co-curricular activities. And it was financed without raising taxes or putting the district into debt. How is that a bad thing?

The school board has done a good job in challenging times. The district is in good financial shape, and classroom education ranks among the best in the nation. The majority of voters knew that as they went to the polls Tuesday.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.