Be careful where you put that foot


There was a saying we used a lot when I was younger whenever someone said something without thinking it through.
“Open mouth; insert foot.”
I feel school board candidate Lance Calkins should ruminate on that before he runs for another public office, as should anyone else heading into an election or a job interview.
Mr. Calkins ran an ad on Page 2 of the Plainsman on Election Day and I gotta say it really rubbed me the wrong way. I am sure he was trying for a confident, no-nonsense pose with a little humor thrown in, but it fell flat with me. I don’t think Mr. Calkins thought it through very well before he had it published.
What he and every other job seeker needs to do is look at their ads and resumes through the eyes of the person or people hiring them. Is it respectful or condescending? Does it offer ideas for improvement or does it only criticize?
To me, Mr. Calkins’ ad seemed condescending and critical of the job that has been done in the last several years. He might expect voters disgruntled with the current school board to support him, but I thought he was also critical of our professional and support staff, too. Did he realize that a large percentage of voters are also district employees?
I do understand the concept of tooting one’s own horn, especially when running for office. After all, why would anyone vote for you if you can’t show you’re the best person for the job?  But there is a difference between saying, “I am the right candidate, I have experience and good ideas,” and making comments that imply everyone else is doing everything wrong.
His ad started great, with a tag line about fresh ideas. But as I read his ad, I became amused. When he said he knew how to pinch pennies I thought about our teachers who pay for their own supplies. When he said he knows how to inspect property I thought of our business manager who holds contractors toes to the fire.
But when he said he probably wouldn’t raise taxes, I went from amused to bemused.
We the voters raise our property taxes when needed because we feel the education of our children is of the utmost importance. We want to provide an excellent education in a safe environment and are not willing to put up with mediocrity. The voters make that choice.
Well, as Mr. Calkins went on to talk about being an author, illustrator and publisher, I became confused. What exactly does this have to do with purchasing textbooks? At this point I began to  think he was maybe out of touch with his target group.
When writing a resume, always stay on track and stay positive. Never imply that the person doing the job now is not up to par. Just explain how you would do it differently.
He ended his ad by saying his son told him he could get a thousand votes if he promised to get better food.
Now, I’m sure this was his idea of a joke and he maybe he thought that poking fun at food service will endear him with the voters. But he wasn’t looking at his ad through the eyes of the School Nutrition staff. I went from confused to down-right mad in a heart beat.
I don’t speak for anyone else, but this is one nutrition employee who takes pride in our program and was insulted by his insinuation that we serve lousy food. The public is always invited to come join us for a meal to judge for themselves.
I suggest Mr. Calkins removes his foot from his mouth and inserts a school lunch. He might just be surprised and enjoy it.

Louise Van Poll is a columnist and freelance writer for the Plainsman.

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