Dover election: Shocked & awed
Dover election: Shocked & awed
MIKE ARGENTO - York Daily Record, Sunday, Nov 13, 2005
Sometimes, just when you give up hope that people will do the right thing, they come along and do something that completely surprises you.

I’m talking about Dover, of course.

I expected, as a lot of people, that the current school board would sweep to re-election Tuesday based mostly on the fact that they had adopted something really, incredibly stupid — the moronic intelligent design thing — and had dragged the school district into a federal court case that they couldn’t win, and once they were involved in such case, they pretty much had become completely untethered from reality and the truth and were exposed as just the kind of people to whom we should never, ever entrust our schools.

You know, just the kind of folks we routinely put in charge of things.

I expected them to win based on a couple of things. First off, they blamed the media for all of their problems, and nobody ever went broke blaming the media. The media gets blamed for everything. Trust me, we’re used to it.

Secondly, I was banking on bone-headed York County to take over. Face it, York County people are hard-headed when it comes to a lot of things, and having people criticize your school board just because it violated the Constitution of the United States kind of makes you want to dig your heels in. We resent it when outsiders come in and tell us how we’re screwing up our schools. We can screw up our schools all by ourselves, if you don’t mind.

But it didn’t happen.

I’m as amazed as anyone.

What’s wrong with you people?

For the past year or so, I’ve been asked about you people too many times to count and, for the most part, I defended Dover. Sure, in some parts of York County, they hold the opinion that Dover is full of inbred hillbillies, and once you get out into the country, it gets kind of scary. And when folks from out of town called and wanted to get descriptions of Dover as the kind of place full of inbred hillbillies, I told them that was a stereotype and was certainly not true.

But, because of the intelligent design creationism thing, they had certain ideas about Dover, that it was kind of backward and the people were, essentially, dumb.

And I tried to explain that Dover is full of decent, caring, smart people, who kind of forgot to vote in school board elections and let in a bunch of board members who, in the words of a social studies teacher at the school, wanted to convert Dover from a standards-based district into a living-word-based one.

So Election Day rolls around and what happens?

The incumbents and their cronies take a dive.

Big time.

One of the ringleaders for intelligent design creationism, former board president Alan Bonsell, came in next to last in a field of 16 candidates.

Never saw that one coming.

Sure, the incumbents got the district embroiled in a lawsuit that could potentially cost the district more than $1 million. Of course, Bonsell said the taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay for it, and they’d have fund-raisers to pay off the plaintiffs’ lawyers should the district lose. (Let’s see, at 25 cents per Rice Krispie square, divided into a million bucks . . . carry the one . . . we’re talking a lot of Rice Krispie squares.)

Once embroiled, the board members performed admirably, except for the part where the judge questioned Bonsell’s version of things. And former board member Bill Buckingham’s relationship with the truth was exposed as estranged at best. And board member Heather Geesey had trouble forming coherent thoughts. And board member Sheila Harkins, well, as one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers said, it was kind of hard to tell what her deal was.

And, as late as Election Day, I fully expected them to be re-elected.

The lessons?

Well, as certain as the sun will rise tomorrow, the incumbents will blame the media for their loss.

And being an embarrassment locally is OK. Just don’t embarrass us on national TV.

One of the last days of the trial, I had lunch with a couple of documentary film producers, and they were asking about Dover and what kind of place it was and how the election was going to turn out.

I told them that Dover wasn’t all that different than a lot of small towns, and it’s populated with a bunch of hard-headed people, and for that reason, the incumbents would breeze to re-election because voters would blame outsiders and the media for their problems with the school board.

You know, it was the old adage: You don’t change FEMA directors in the middle of a disaster.

Turns out I was wrong.

So now, I’d like to offer some advice to the new school board members. I know, you don’t have to listen. But if I were you guys, I’d throw out that stupid intelligent design nonsense and pretend it never happened, and if anyone tries to bring it up, just put your hands over your ears and yell “LALALALALALA!”

Of course, you won’t listen to me. So good luck, folks. See ya in court some day.

Mike Argento, whose column appears Mondays and Thursdays in Living and Sundays in Viewpoints, can be reached at 771-2046 or at Read more Argento columns at or at —Argento’s Front Stoop