The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 26, 2014

Stop arguing and vote

For The Daily Item

— As Daily Item readers well know, recently the paper generously offered considerable editorial space to opponents of the Lewisburg Area School District’s decision to locate the high school in a suburb.

We were thus educated about the issue by quite a few letters, both from such opponents and spirited challenges to each of their claims by District representatives and others.

Writers from the two camps provided compelling arguments regarding such key matters as explaining how the district made its decision, technical assessments about the two possible building projects, and thoughtful estimates about the costs and benefits of both locations. And, as we also know, the two groups produced diametrically opposite conclusions about where that school ought to be.

The letters also revealed a crucial fact about this whole issue: no one knows the collective opinion of citizens living in the relevant area.

Indeed, the only available record of the public’s opinion is that a majority of approximately 150 people, who filled out a form at a district meeting three years ago, indicated a preference that the suburban school be one of the options studied.  In other words, we did not find out then, nor do we know now, the preference of a majority of citizens in the region about where the school ought to be.

Given such a situation, it’s lucky we have a way to settle the debate with civility: we could hold an easily accessible referendum designed and run by a committee from both groups. As a matter of fact, we need to do that because, simply, it is the only democratic way to make the decision.

Rather than continue the debate—one which has served us well to this point—we can stop arguing and vote.

Consider what we would gain: most of us seem to believe that federal and state government is on sale to the highest bidder. But, now we’ve got a chance actually to practice democracy. Talk about fun! And, the golden prize at the end of the process could be that we find out that democracy provides so much pleasure that we will decide to put up a struggle in every direction to get more of it. And how sweet that would be.  

Charles Sackrey,