How refreshing it was to hear the three candidates running for state representative from the newly created Washington 7 District at this week’s candidates forum.

Their conduct and their interactions were such a welcome relief from the harsh haranguing that has characterized the political discourse at the national level and, disappointingly, at the state level this election season.

While candidates at the national level are slugging it out with barbed comments and calling each other liars, incompetents, immoral and radical, the three people who seek to represent the Mad River Valley in Montpelier have been cordial and respectful to each other.

They have sought votes by meeting voters and by presenting their ideas and positions.

One of the most unsavory races this year is the campaign of Wendy Wilcox who is seeking to oust current Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce. Wilcox’s campaign has been shrill, it has been wrong, it has been rude and it has been the antithesis of civil.

It’s hard to determine the lowest point, but it might have been when Wilcox accused Pearce of being some sort of sub-Vermonter because she (Pearce) rented versus owned a home.

How absurd and wrong to suggest someone is less of anything because of the very personal, private financial decision someone makes about whether to take on a mortgage. How inappropriate to take your campaign into someone’s private life like that. Ugly.

Cast against the backdrop of the ugliness of this statewide race, watching incumbents Maxine Grad (D-Moretown) and Adam Greshin (I-Warren) and challenger Sal Spinosa (I-Waitsfield) has been a pleasure.

Being able to listen to candidates talk about their ideas and positions versus listening to them run their opponents down takes a great deal of the unnecessary emotionalism out of the race and makes it easier for voters to decide which candidates’ positions best suit their needs.

Never underestimate the value of civil discourse.