As a first-time candidate for a public office, I found myself faced with a letter to the editor that I believed to be unfounded and blatantly biased towards a specific agenda. Upon reading it I was left with the choice of “do nothing, or “respond and vehemently refute the assertions being made.” Because I am not one to stand pat, I was prepared to go through the letter, line by line in order to provide evidence of its falsehood. However, upon reflection, I am instead opting to learn a lesson about the “why” it was written and focus less about the specific content of the letter itself that I find objectionable.
People are passionate about certain things: Family, schools, sports, wildlife, community, etc. When something encroaches on that passion, too often we tend to lash out to protect the thing we are passionate about. We do so in any way we think will ward off those seeking to bring change to areas where we don’t want that change to occur, or to thwart ideas that don’t align with ours.
We have all seen this too much on the national stage. The negative ads filled with outright lies are becoming the norm. We learn less about what a candidate has to say about themselves and are instead given a message about why their opponent is a poor choice (typically accompanied by dire imagery and somber music). Sadly, scare tactics are the new campaign methodology.
So, instead of reacting to this letter in a negative manner, I would like to invite Ms. Chabot to meet with me. I don’t believe I am any of the things she portrays me as, but I do understand I am encroaching into her comfort zone. I realize that the ideas I bring to the table may be in conflict with her viewpoint, but I want to open that channel of discussion, respectfully and with an open hand (and mind), so that we can solve these issues together.
Again, while I don’t believe the characterization she portrays me as is in any way accurate, it is a concern that she feels strongly that the change I am seeking to bring is not something she is able to accommodate and perhaps that’s why she chose to craft her letter in such a manner. It’s the job of elected officials (of which I aspire to be) to have a thick skin and get to the bottom of things that cause conflict. I am learning this and I am sure it won’t be the last such lesson I will learn about the reactions to encroaching on a person’s particular passion.
Change is hard for all of us, but we can’t expect others to change if we are not prepared and willing to do so ourselves. I am ready for that change. I am ready to listen and learn and work together and solve our differences in an open and transparent manner. I believe we can do better than what we are seeing in the news today and I believe it starts here, in our town, in our community.
I welcome anyone joining me in that journey.