The voters of Oak Creek elected a mayor Tuesday night.
Unfortunately, they did so without the benefit of a substantive debate on issues affecting the community. Rather, they made their choice after a campaign that was mostly personal and, at times, ugly.
Running for and serving on town boards can sometimes be thankless. The time commitment greatly outweighs the compensation and the job often comes with more criticism than praise. But the reward of service is not money or power or control. The reward is the opportunity to give back, the opportunity to influence policy and the opportunity to improve the quality of life in the community where you live.
That there are differences in small-town political campaigns is not surprising. In fact, such differences should be welcomed. Communities are best served when opposing candidates espouse differing views and allow the community's residents to choose a clear direction for their town.
There are countless examples at every level of politics where candidates are able to debate issues passionately and then allow the voters to decide which course they want to follow. Such is the very essence of politics.
There also are many examples of bitter political campaigns that are not driven by issues but by other factors such as money, political vendettas or personal animosity.
It appears some of those factors influenced the Oak Creek Town Board election.
The election was heated from the start and reached its worst point when mayoral candidate Bill Norris held a meeting to introduce himself to voters and then called police when opponent Cargo Rodeman and some of her supporters showed up. That event did nothing to help the town's voters decide who should be their mayor.
Candidates should be passionate about what they believe. They should never be afraid to argue for those beliefs. But when they announce they are running for office, they also have a responsibility to conduct themselves civilly and treat one another with mutual respect, even when they disagree. Those who aren't prepared to accept that responsibility should not run for office.
On Tuesday night, a mayor and new Town Board were chosen. We hope that the community accepts the decision of its voters and moves on from what was, at times, an unfortunate campaign.