The school board election in Hempstead last year produced change and controversy. Two reform-minded candidates won seats -- that was real progress. Now is not the time to take a step back.
Maribel Toure was one of the 2014 winners. But she didn't triumph until October because the state education commissioner ordered a revote after allegations of absentee ballot fraud and voter coercion in the May election by campaign workers for longtime board member and power broker Betty Cross. Toure won the showdown decisively.
On Tuesday, Toure is running for a full three-year term. We backed her in both elections last year and do so again. In almost seven months of service, she has been the board's most consistent and insistent voice for reform and transparency. Yet, school board politics are so ugly in the district, her opponents tried to discredit her last month on the false and outrageous claim that she is not a U.S. citizen.
Toure and six other candidates are running for two seats. In making choices, we ask Hempstead voters to keep some things in mind.
Beware of candidates who give full-throated praise to Hempstead's former glory and greatness; this appeal is code for a time before Latinos moved into the community. Beware of candidates who attack the involvement of so-called outsiders; that's an embrace of the insularity that has gotten Hempstead nowhere for years. Beware of candidates who describe new Latino students as having "special needs"; that preys on and encourages the divisiveness that has plagued the district.
Hempstead needs people with open eyes and fresh ideas, not those tied tightly to the past. Look closely and thoughtfully, and listen.