• So just in case you hadn’t noticed, elections are drawing near.

If you haven’t noticed, you probably haven’t been listening to the radio, watching television or picking up your mail.....because it just seems like it’s all elections, all the time.

I for one am pretty much over the “attack politics” that are so prevalent in today’s campaigns, but you can hardly get away from them unless you’re a hermit.

We don’t see that in every race, to be sure, but we see enough of the negative campaigning that it just becomes noise.....and the race seems to be who can be strident enough to drown out the other.

We see the same thing in many of the letters to the editor which we receive, many of which are clearly campaign-generated. We welcome letters....but want them to actually be from the person submitting, who is a local or has some local tie, not the work of some campaign hack.

I much prefer candidates who tell me why they deserve my vote, as opposed to telling me why I should not vote for their opponent.

That doesn’t seem to be the way of much of the political world, however, and has not been for some time.

Local elections, however, tend to be a nice change from the races for higher office.

We present the final candidate profiles for contested Newman/Gustine races this week....and this has been a busy time indeed. We have no fewer than 15 city and school candidates in contested races in Gustine and Newman, if I am counting correctly.

Each was invited to come in for an interview, and we wound up visiting with all but two.

I enjoyed seeing the interest in this year’s local elections, as having choices is always healthy for communities. Furthermore, I’ve just always thought that local politics were at their best.

Those running for local office are collectively an interesting mix of folks, bringing different backgrounds and perspectives.

For our Gustine readers wanting to learn more about their city candidates, a forum for mayoral and council hopefuls will be held tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m. at the Gustine High auditorium. The event is sponsored by Gustine Rotary.

Above all....remember to vote.

• Hard to explain the atmosphere in last week’s Gustine school board meeting....was one of those “had to be there” situations.

I’m sure the weight of spending $8 million in taxpayer money was a factor.....that certainly should not be taken lightly, and it wasn’t. But it seemed like there were some unnecessary barbs being tossed about, which was not real becoming.

Yes, the price tag of the Measure P projects was hard to swallow.

But in some ways, this episode was also a reminder of the importance of doing things right the first time around. A costly lesson, to be sure, but a valuable one.

The mood took away from what should be celebrated: In a few months, Gustine Unified School District students and staff will be on campuses with reliable, up-to-date fire alarm systems....and a year from now, Gustine Middle School will finally have a gym of its own.

Going forward, those are the things that are most important.

• Just a reminder.....the Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District will be hosting a health and wellness showcase next Wednesday, Oct. 24, from 1-6 p.m. at (and around) the L.J. Newman Memorial Center.

The free event is open to the community as a whole and includes food samples, a farm-to-fork experience and a wealth of information about local health and wellness resources.

I am very much looking forward to seeing what is in store that day....

• I’m a regular shopper for our household, but beginning to think that I should turn those duties over to Kat.

If the grocery store affixed a GPS monitor to the cart to track my movement through the aisles (they don’t do that, do they?), somebody would be looking at my trail and asking “What is he doing?” Suffice to say I wouldn’t make for very good market research as I criss-crossed back and forth across the store.

Am I the only shopper who goes into the store with a list of three items and leaves a half hour later with a full cart.....only to get home and realize that I missed at least one of the items I went for in the first place.

I can’t be....right? Right?

Sigh.

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.