Politics in the Little City

The political arena is heating up in the little city. There are local elections for school board and city council. Our neighbor is very involved, so we’ve heard more about it than we would usually hear. We currently have four yard signs up, and we answer a lot of questions about them from the boys, who are very interested in the election. (They also think we’re voting for our neighbor, who is not running, but otherwise, they seem to have a good understanding of the process.)

The issue at hand for city council is the building of mixed-use developments in the city. One side is anti-development because they argue that the developments add too many children to the schools. Never mind that the single family homes actually have more kids and contribute fewer dollars per kid to the schools than the mixed-use developments. I think what bugs me most about this rhetoric is that nobody wants to address a couple of central ideas that are implied by the rhetoric. One, the very idea that the condos add too many kids that will tax the school system is racist, anti-immigrant, and classist. It suggests that teeming families will overrun the size of the apartment to take advantage of the schools here. Two, there is the idea that large families can afford the condos and want to live in them. Most of the condos are luxury condos that have one or two bedrooms and 500-1000 square feet. Unless people plan on turning the closets into bedrooms (a real possibility?), these spaces are not set up for families. They are set up for retirees, couples with one (maybe two) children, and young people with one roommate. But they’re exorbitantly expensive. I think the rub is that the people who believe that the new mixed use developments are contributing a lot of kids to the schools mistakenly believe that the housing units are affordable housing for families. Here’s news: affordable housing is nearly nonexistent in this town. Hypocrisy is rampant.

The other side is pro-growth to sustain the economic commitments of the city. I don’t think they really address my concerns, which is the lack of affordable housing, and as a corollary the destruction of small single family homes in favor of not mixed use developments, but mansions that take up the entire lot.

The school board election has a lot more candidates and is more muddled. We have picked our candidates for this, but the school board election has involved a lot of personalities and conflicts between them. It’s entertaining, but mostly because candidates who claim to base all their work on date keep misrepresenting the data to the public. That’s bizarre.

I’m pretty frustrated with the overt sexism and misogyny toward two of the candidates. They’ve been tagged by an anonymous someone as “mommy candidates” in a disparaging way, despite the fact that nearly every other candidate, man or woman, also touts their children as evidence they should be elected. The two women have been called gossipy and accused of running whisper-campaigns. It’s pretty evident that the critics hate the fact that women dare to call for change. The other women running are aligned with the people making the sexist comments, so I’m sure the people making the comments would point to them as evidence that they don’t have a problem with women. In that case, I say, then stop using these women’s gender to undermine their credentials.

I’m going to go vote in person absentee this week.

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