Putting differences aside to get the work done: A perspective on charter and appointment

| Letter to the editor from Donald Libby |

I write this letter not really sure where to begin.

A recent letter to the editor made reference to the point that I was somehow unqualified or ineligible to be on the Charter committee because I did not sign the petition calling for a vote to establish said committee. First and foremost I discussed charter long before this present drive has come about and spoke that there was a lot of good that could come from one. As far as qualifications… I have the same qualification as those sitting there making the decision. I am a resident who filled out the paperwork and explained why I wanted to be on the committee. Which is more than a person needs to do to if just taking out papers.

Concerning my support… I was approached one time at the transfer station and when asked I declined because I explained that I did not want to see a mechanism that could potentially be put in place that could establish a council type of government. I had a nice conversation with the gentleman and was assured there was no plans for that but he did agree that with our current form of government that was the only way one could guarantee that. We then discussed possible changes within the budget process. I want to say that I serve on a committee with this person and we have many interactions and they are very professional and both of us work on issues that affect the entire town.  I was asked again one other time after a meeting if I supported the movement and I answered that there were many good things that a charter could do but I believed by listening to the presentations that there was an underling amount of hatred as I called it generating the push. The answer I got was, quote, “Maybe at first but not so much now.” That I found worrisome. A third time when I was asked the issue was more to do with the issue of term limits. I believed then and answered as such that the issue was aimed at certain individuals not just the concept. I find that worrisome as well because we as a town could be looking short term and not long term. Remember… we don’t live forever. If one puts the whole issue of the charter and the time frame for the current desire for one, it goes back because of the term limit issue. Our town is 247 years old and it has probably survived because petty differences (some might not think petty) got put aside and work was done. The term limit debate not being petty but rather in my opinion what might have led some to want them.  

It has been my experience that those that yell the most for new leadership have not agreed with a decision or decisions that have been made. I have always expected the board of selectmen to represent the entire town and when I presented something to them I knew I had better do a good job in convincing them that it was best for the entire town. Whenever I have served in the past with an individual with an agenda they didn’t bring much else to the table. The one thing that was driving them was not much of a guiding principle that was useful in many other instances. That does not mean that the individual or individuals on each side of an issue are incompetent, just they don’t agree with someone else. Those that make appointments have a responsibility to represent all the citizens of our town not just those who yell the loudest. We seem to live in an age, at least by seeing the national political scene, that those who shout the loudest get heard even if it is putting by being a self-perceived champion of justice putting one line zingers in replies on Facebook. This is mistakenly thought of as “the will of the people” or “the people have spoken” and then called Democracy. Unfortunately for that narrative we live in a Representative Republic.  

With all this being said I have served on many boards and committees in our town and have never done anything illegal, unethical, or immoral. As a Planning board member I have always followed our ordinances all the while trying to make sure the process was fair to all sides. I mention this because many times I have had to vote a certain way regardless how I personally feel about a project and never made it about the individual. l would not and have not done anything to put the town in jeopardy. I will finish with the statement that I made at a Selectman’s meeting a few years ago: “New Gloucester is not known as town by what we have or do not have. It is known by how the citizens treat each other in the process.”

Thank you,
Donald Libby

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this opinion piece are solely those of the author. Publication does not reflect endorsement by the NGXchange or its volunteers. NGX welcomes diverse viewpoints and invites your submissions. Learn more here.