Editorials: Local elections done with class

It was a long and brutal campaign season, marked by slurs, wild accusations, charges of racism, attack ads and partisan bickering.

Outside of Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley, that is.

Californians, and Americans in general, can be forgiven for growing weary of politics over the last few months. The governor's race between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman provided the media with months of content, ubiquitous to the point where it was easy to forget that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger still held the job.

Did Whitman know about her housekeeper's immigration status? Did she really push that employee? Is that a voice on the Brown office's line calling Whitman a "whore"?

The news of the Washington races grew even more numbing by Nov. 2, as pundits dissected Barack Obama's presidency, Tea Party candidates dominated CNN and conspiracy theories, from death panels to Obama's birthplace, made the rounds.

But unless we missed something huge, that election-season volatility didn't rub off much in Huntington or Fountain Valley. Even in Surf City, where 21 candidates scrambled for four seats on the dais, the campaigns were decidedly low on attacks.

Sure, Team Huntington Beach — the coalition of Connie Boardman, Joe Shaw and Blair Farley — ran on the platform that they could meet residents' needs better than the current council. And candidate Norm Westwell, a Libertarian, published a color-coded list of his opponents on his website, assigning a red mark to those he deemed "scary-bad" for fiscally conservative voters.

But for the most part, the local campaigns seemed downright cordial, at least compared with the spectacles nationwide.

Rather than try to smear each other, the candidates devoted most of their time to trumpeting their platforms. No tempers flared at the public forums that nearly all the challengers attended. And the noisiest rally we can remember in the last two years occurred over preserving Triangle Park, not trying to keep any candidate or ideology out of office.

In short, we had the treat of observing a mostly civil election in our own neighborhood. It was a welcome respite in a season that didn't offer many.

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