To the Editor:
Effecting real change on issues in Washington, D.C., seems out of reach due to elected officials’ behavior; however, not in Augusta. We as citizens still have the ability to impact the behavior of Maine’s elected officials. To do so, however, we need to voice our opinions loudly and steadily.
Every community in this state is facing a tax shift never seen before with homeowners facing significant tax increases, and we need representatives that will conduct business for the good of all. It’s time for every taxpayer to tell our elected state officials to stop the ongoing rhetoric and move forward with a goal of compromise. If a fair, compromised budget is not attained, communities will be hugely impacted.
I have repeatedly stated that a healthy elected body should represent a diversity of ideas and beliefs. Such diversity generates well-rounded, thought-provoking debate; however, Augusta’s elected officials have forgotten the importance of this. Elected officials in Augusta need to realize that one idea is not necessarily better than another, but open debate is a necessity and compromise is critical.
Both Democrats and Republicans are responsible for what is occurring in Augusta. Maine’s representatives need to stop “drawing lines in the sand”and instead communicate with open minds and hearts. Indeed, if elected officials in Augusta do not start respecting each other’s ideas, we will all pay the price!
Effective, productive communication is possible. Maine is known for its town meetings where folks gather for several hours and passionately discuss important issues. In many town meeting communities, a pot luck dinner is part of the gathering, providing an opportunity for attendees to share a meal and discuss family matters, Little League games, dance recitals and maybe politics.
Although town meetings in larger municipalities, like Lewiston, are no longer part of the landscape, we listen to public comments, share our views with conviction, cast a vote and move on to the next topic. Opposing views do not result in anger being carried forward. In fact, during breaks in Lewiston’s City Council meetings, we talk about family, sports or share a laugh.
Unlike what’s happening in Augusta, we never make opposing views a personal issue. Should that ever occur or personal agendas arise, it will be time for the local public to force change.
When elected officials make issues personal or refuse to be opened minded, they are no longer representing their constituents. Augusta officials need to remember who they are representing and let their actions speak louder than their words.
Lewiston City Councilor, Ward 6