Together, Narda Chisholm-Greene, Carey Smith, and Sharon Tanenbaum Kraus will not be attending the Candi-Date event hosted by PARES and SOMA Action on November 3.
While we individually understand the importance of campaign forums, debates, and events, we cannot in good conscience attend an event hosted by a group that has shown clear bias in this election and whose leaders and prominent members are responsible for the defamatory and false statements being spread online and in person.
“This election year has taught us how to come together as well as how we want to lead and treat those we interact with. Last year as a candidate at the SOMA Action and PARES debate, I felt most unwelcomed. My campaign manager and friend was harassed and asked to leave (by none other than a Founding Member of PARES) simply because he had a drink in his hand,” says Chisholm-Greene. “As I went from table to table, I recall the faces of disapproval and disdain—all of which were members of either of these organizations. In this year’s debates, I was met with the same attendees who heckled in the crowd, rolled their eyes and made snide comments when I spoke. It was last year’s and this year’s experiences that have led me to the decision that I would not participate in 2019 if the same divisive people were still a part of these organizations. People are entitled to choose whomever they think best suits the role of a BOE member; however they are not entitled to alienate and sway others through intimidation or bullying. My favorite quote by Maya Angelou sums it up best: 'People will forget what you did, they will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.'”
“We should all behave in a way that would make our children proud, and the vitriolic comments and actions made online and in person toward myself, my family, and fellow candidates from those who consider themselves community leaders of these groups are disappointing beyond comprehension,” says Tanenbaum Kraus. “No matter how good the intentions are of any group, they are drowned out by the negative, damaging words and behaviors of their members.”
“Do I believe in equity and inclusion in our school district? Of course I do, as do my fellow candidates in this election. However, these organizations and their leadership and members are lacking transparency and are showing bias towards other candidates in this election,” says Smith. “PARES, along with SOMA Justice, changed the grading practice after it was pointed out that certain grades were not given in previous years’ scoring. For an organization to suddenly change the grading system and change the website to reflect this change after grades were published is demonstrating a biased, predisposed process which completely lacks the transparency that this community has been actively seeking over the years. Any grading of candidates should be done by our peers in the community, not by an outside organization with strong connections to the leadership and members of these very important organizations.”
We encourage community members who would like to connect with any candidate to reach out to them. And if that isn’t a possibility, to please watch or read about any of the four forums and debates that have been hosted in October, to read our local news sites and newspapers, and to visit the campaign websites.
Most importantly, we encourage every eligible community members to vote on November 5. That will be the first step to meaningful change in our district.