The general election is six days away. Are we going to be able to still talk to each other when this is over?

We’d like to think most of our residents are civil and respectful of one another’s views on candidates and issues. But the discourse we’ve seen on social media sites and in campaign ads makes us wonder whether some folks are getting carried away.

The race for the local seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Education is particularly contentious – surprisingly so. Sadly, much of the discussion has been less on the qualifications of the candidates and more on the divisive issue of charter versus traditional public schools. The campaign finance totals bear this out – challenger Melissa Baten Caswell has the support of known anti-charter entities, while the alleged pro-charter incumbent Grace Mah is accepting money from charter proponents. But the candidates’ records and the actual duties of the position are far more varied and go far beyond approving or denying charter schools.

We hope people focus on what the county board actually oversees – early-childhood education, helping vulnerable student populations and offering support services, such as bookkeeping, for our school districts. Far less controversial, yes, but that’s the reality.

Meanwhile, the Los Altos City Council race has people drawing lines in the sand over “pro-resident” versus “pro-development” candidates. Again, the hyperbole takes away from the reality of the candidates and their intentions. All candidates are “resident-centric,” and to label some as wanting out-of-control development is simply unfair and untrue. There’s a big difference between wanting to implement modest proposals in the Downtown Vision plan and wanting a skyscraper on San Antonio Road.

The nastiness of the national debate has trickled down to us. People are now questioning political party allegiances when such questions were irrelevant in local elections of the past.

We suggest people reject the strident labeling and the conspiracy theories. Listen to the candidates and what reputable sources have to say about them.

Please be civil and be respectful of your neighbors’ differences of opinion. And if you haven’t already, please exercise your sacred right to vote.