A year ago, one would have said that Sharon Wright and Shirlee Zane were friends. They were neighbors, they attended the same parties, they shared family ties.

Now the candidates for supervisor in the Third District and their supporters are busy bashing each other. In the latest mailers, Wright is in the pocket of land developers, and Zane is the puppet of public employees unions.

There is a certain unreality to all this. With the economy in shambles, you would be hard-pressed to find a real estate developer. Meanwhile, local government is broke. There will be no generous contracts for public workers. With burgeoning budget deficits, whoever is elected, Wright or Zane, may be handed the obligation to lay off public workers.

The candidates don’t make it easier on themselves. Part of the challenge of providing leadership in this difficult time will involve overcoming public cynicism. And why is the public cynical? Because candidates spend the final days of every campaign telling us why their rivals can’t be trusted.