Monday, April 25, 2016

Local politics can be rough

If you follow local politics, you'll notice we're in the entertaining part of the Kerrville city election, that period when unusual things happen.
The election for two Kerrville city council positions and the Kerrville mayor takes place May 7, and early voting begins April 25. The campaigns are now in their final stretch.
My favorite section of the newspaper, the letters to the editor, is apparently being used strategically by several of the campaigns, and there have been some interesting news stories, as well.
One news item, about one candidate's yard signs not meeting the letter of the law, is pretty clever. Allegedly, the letters of one word on the signs are about 3/16" too short; 3/16" is about the height of 3 stacked pennies. I pity the poor printer who prepared the proof on that project. Mistakes like that are surprisingly easy to make. (It wasn't me, at least this time.)
I think over the next few weeks we'll continue to see such stories, and find some entertainment in the letters written to the editor. Soon enough, thankfully, the municipal election will be over, and hopefully the candidates who win will be able to work together and make Kerrville a better place. Frankly, I just hope people vote. And I hope your candidates win.
If you think this current election shows a tough side of politics, consider an event from 100 years ago right here in Kerrville.
Reading the March 18, 1916 issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun I noticed a story on the front page: "Entire School Board Resigns."
The members of the outgoing Kerrville school board include some names you might recognize: J. E. Grinstead, who was a former mayor and publisher of the newspaper; D. H. Comparette, who organized and ran the Kerrville Telephone Company; Ally Beitel, a prominent builder. The rest of the board were Frederic Nyc, A. A. Roberts, R. S. Newman, and W. G. Peterson.
All seemed to be going smoothly for that board of education. The board president, Grinstead, had never had to cast a deciding vote, and "no complaint against any teacher or other person employed in said schools was ever brought to [the notice of the board]."
That is, until March 10, 1916, when a petition was presented to the board, signed by 98 members of the public.
"This petition was a request that J. G. Chapman be not reelected superintendent of Kerrville Public Schools," according to the news story published in Grinstead's newspaper. "This petition was not considered because said J. G. Chapman had stated to the board some time prior to that date that he would not accept the position if elected."
Although that petition is lost to the sands of time, it appears the petitioners were concerned with the superintendent's lack of credentials in the state of Texas. He apparently had teaching certification in another state, but not here.
A span of 6 days separates the presentation of the petition to the resignation of the entire school board. The outgoing board had been threatened with legal action, which would be withdrawn provided they all resigned.
During those six days a lot of gossip was traded in Kerrville, and little of it kind. The outgoing board was suspected of all sorts of wrongdoing, though a careful examination of the accounts demonstrated the books of the school district were in order.
On Thursday morning, March 16, a new school board "took charge of the schools." The new board was made up of T. C. Johnston, A.W. Henke, W. A. Fawcett, J. E. Palmer, J. H. Ward, E. Galbraith, and R. B. Everette. Johnston was elected board president.
In less than one week the entire school board was ousted and replaced. Now that's some rough politics.
Some of those board members forced to resign never fully recovered. Grinstead eventually sold his newspaper, though he continued to publish magazines about the hill country and also wrote a number of pulp westerns.
And what of the Tivy Class of 1916? Among the graduates that year were Rosita Holdsworth (Hollar), who became a teacher, despite the chaos of her senior year, and Louis Comparette, who was probably the son of one of the ousted board members.  Tivy graduated 18 students that year.
As we endure the municipal election, just remember: it could be a lot worse.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who, years ago, placed his name on several municipal ballots. Please vote in the upcoming elections -- I don't care which candidate you support, but I encourage you to vote. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times April 23, 2016.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article. I enjoyed reading the historical events surrounding local politics. As far as the current campaign for mayor, the candidates and their constituents are well advised to focus on the qualifications and issues rather than such pettiness of the size of words on a sign. Good luck toward a successful election


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