October 20, 2009

Meghann Silverthorn for Douglas County School Board

By Julian Dunraven, J.D., M.P.A.

Honorable friends:

This election cycle, the People’s Press Collective has fielded one of its own as a candidate. Meghann Campos Silverthorn, a long time writer for the PPC and Slapstick Politics, is campaigning to serve on the Douglas County Board of Education here in Colorado.

Over the years, I have come to view most candidates with a rather jaundiced eye. I can scarcely count the number of times I have been disappointed. No matter what principles candidates draw their sound bites from, their underlying motivation always seems to be self aggrandizement—and principles are the first things they sacrifice in their drive to be popular, powerful, bipartisan, a compromise broker, or whatever else they envision for themselves. I know I am not alone when I see the latest political ads, chuckle, and file them appropriately in my wastepaper basket. This is the type of politics we have all come to expect. Thus, I was completely stunned when my old friend, Meghann Silverthorn dropped into my parlor to tell me that she intended to run for school board. I do believe I dropped my crumpet, which of course fell straight into my tea and made a right mess. People should really give warnings before making the world stand on its head.

You see, Meghann Silverthorn is not your average politician. Everything about her is unique. The daughter of diplomats, she grew up in embassies and schools all around the world. Her early life reads much like an adventuresome travel journal. Some of those adventures are splendid and exciting. Others, however, are so terrible that I have rarely met anyone who would have more right to call herself a victim—but Meghann has never done so. In fact, she claims that if she ever allowed herself to feel like a victim, she probably would not be alive today. Her personal strength is astonishing.

Her intellect is equally impressive. Already blessed with extreme intelligence, she supports her natural gifts with a master’s degree in Public Policy, and bachelor’s degrees in both Political Science and Aerospace Engineering (yes, she actually is a rocket scientist). She also has more than passing familiarity with Austrian School Economics, and her international background, especially in socialist nations, showed her exactly why the principles of the free market and individual liberty cannot be ignored.

Her strength and intellect combine to make her one of the most principled people I have had the honor of knowing. I first met her while she served as a student administrator at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I recall her sitting at budget meetings where millions of dollars would be allocated to various programs and fees and tuition would be raised or lowered accordingly. While administrators and student activists would give long-winded, self-important speeches in support of various programs, Meghann would sit quietly listening and, of all things, knitting. When she had heard enough, she would set her knitting needles aside and ask a question which would often take the administration completely off guard and leave them stammering. She seemed to have a way of finding efficient ways of achieving goals without raising costs and, as often as possible, actually cutting costs. She simply refused to believe that funding higher education required bankrupting students and their families. University administration always seemed to view her questions and comments with complete surprise, yet her suggestions often ended debate and swayed the vote. She would then go back to knitting.

Despite her quiet ways, even then she was passionate about the quality of education the university provided. She constantly crusaded to add curriculum to the College of Engineering and even helped to push for what eventually became a complete curriculum overhaul of the College of Arts and Sciences in order to increase educational rigor.

Meghann has been a good friend for many years, and the hours we have spent discussing principles of individual liberty, fundamentals of good economic policy, and quality in education are now beyond count. After so many discussions, it was no surprise to me to see the key issues of her campaign:

  • preserving and improving parental choice for educational options,
  • improving transparency and accountability in school administration and financing,
  • and demanding increased educational rigor in all areas, especially in math and science.

I have no doubt whatsoever that Meghann will be an effective advocate for all these things.

Indeed, my only frustration is, oddly, that Meghann is not a typical politician. While she never fails to make an appearance at meet and greet functions, it goes against her nature to show up at gatherings, foist herself into people’s conversations, promote her platform, and ask for money. She thinks it seems pushy, arrogant, and intrusive. While I may agree, I have often threatened to get her a hand held sign (think Loony Tunes’ Wile E Coyote) reading, “Shy candidate; please donate.” Nonetheless, although this may drive supporters like me to shake our heads in exasperation, it is also proof that this is not a self-promoting politician as usual. Rather, Meghann Silverthorn stands as a woman of exemplary principles and humility, genuinely dedicated to ensuring the best quality in our educational system, both in rigor and administration.

It is my great honor to write this endorsement for Meghann Silverthorn on behalf of the entire People’s Press Collective. It is actually astonishing that such a fine person is willing to involve herself in politics at all. If the world were operating normally, such an individual would stay as far away from politics as possible. Happily, though, the world is standing on its head, my crumpet is swimming, and my tea is mucking about on the floor rather than remaining in my cup where it belongs. Instead of mopping up, I think I shall add to the mess by popping a few bottles of Champagne in celebration as I imagine Meghann quietly knitting the way to educational excellence on the Douglas County school board.

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