OP/ED: NCRD — What’s best for the community, for the people?

By Laura Swanson
Politics is a dirty business, a popularity contest, wrapped up in a talent show. We must wade through all the rhetoric and rah-rah-rah to determine who these people are that will be overseeing our community special districts. Any time a political candidate stoops to the level of attacking their opponent, my alarm bells go off. If you don’t have what it takes to do the job – discredit and attack. I’ve been disappointed to see this happen here locally during several elections, using scare tactics, mis-information, character attacks and bullying to influence the community’s vote.
Many of the various support letters aren’t about what’s best for the people in the community. From all the letters you would be led to believe that one individual is responsible for the success or failure of an organization. It takes a village (or three), a board, leaders, staff and THE COMMUNITY to build an organization. And that organization is required to serve EVERYONE in the community.
It’s about more than buildings, pools, additions, and physical things.
It’s about the people – how you serve them, help them, listen and care for them – ALL the members of the community. Many respected community elders have jumped on the bandwagon to continue the status quo, but I hope that they might consider the value and strength of new energy and truly focus on what’s best for the community.

What is most disturbing about this situation, and hurtful to so many involved, has been the victim-blaming – met with disbelief, and deflection of the reports that there are people who have not been treated with respect or provided the services that others receive at NCRD. Just because your experience at NCRD has been different, PLEASE listen and support those whose experience has been a negative one. Give grace to those with a story to tell – listen, learn and do better. The reason people are not reporting issues is because of how community members are treated when/if they do. When people report issues, they are bullied and made to feel so uncomfortable that they never return. Let me repeat – just because you have had a good experience with an organization or an individual, does not mean that that others could have a concern or issue.
NCRD has a culture of exclusion – if you are not one of the “chosen ones” then you are not welcomed or treated in the same manner, and I’ve heard many stories (and experienced it myself) over the years about the “country club-like attitude” from every department at NCRD. This is a small town so many reports are made anonymously because of the repercussions and personal attacks that have occurred when people “go public.”
Just a bit about my background and history – I’m one of the founders of the Friends of NCRD; I was one of the founders of the Youth Sports League; I went to grade school (K-4th grade) in that building; Three generations of my family have swam in that pool. I’ve written the history of the building, NCRD and so many feature stories and articles over the years; I was the PR/event coordinator for the organization, assistant in the youth department, a coach and volunteer for many NCRD and other community programs. NCRD is one of our community’s treasures, an amazing testament to our resilient rural villages to have a recreation district that could provide so much for so many – a work in process.
The past couple decades have been about upgrades and maintaining the historic facilities and replacing the aging pool. All great accomplishments, but now it’s past time for NCRD to turn attention to its true mission – the health and wellbeing of the community – taking care of ALL the people that the district serves. It’s time for board and staff leadership that listens and supports that community.
Constance Shimek is the right person to do that. In the face of opposition, she has charged fearlessly and positively forward. Taking the high road and not stooping to the level to defend the false information that has been spread, but continuing to advocate for listening to provide solutions, and share her vision and love for this community.
Please join me in voting for Constance Shimek for NCRD Board Position #5.