#LetterToTheEditor #YourVoice #SpotlightNews
To the Editor:
As a community, we are all made better when we are informed and engage in respectful and factual discussions with one another. Invariably, we will not always agree on the issues, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Expressing and exploring opposing viewpoints and challenging the status quo is often what makes for better policy and better communities.
Recognizing an opportunity to provide facts, dispel myths and rumors, answer questions, and educate the public, I accepted an invitation to be one of four panelists to publicly discuss the real estate transfer tax that was first proposed in 2017. Although Mr. Saunders has attempted to give me credit for organizing this important public forum, I am sorry to say that such credit is misplaced, as I neither proposed nor organized the informational meeting.
Mr. Saunders may have his facts wrong, however, we do agree on at least two points, namely that we should all educate ourselves on the issues and hold our elected officials accountable. That is why I make every effort to provide the public with as much information and facts as possible so that together we can listen to one another and move the conversation forward in an informed, honest, and respectful way. Unfortunately, I have learned that some folks do not want the public to have all the facts. They do not welcome open discussion or honest debate of the issues on their merits. Instead, they attempt to stifle or marginalize contrary viewpoints or bury inconvenient truths.
There are also a handful of people on both sides that appear to want to hold their public officials accountable only when they are not from their own political party. For example, last week’s letter to the editor ignores the troubling fact that Supervisor VanLuven has stated that he and then-Supervisor Clarkson privately discussed the real estate transfer tax in 2017, yet ultimately chose not to inform or seek input from the residents prior to the request that the bill be introduced in the Senate and Assembly. Would Mr. Saunders still be as unconcerned or forgiving on this point if it was me who had helped keep the residents of Bethlehem in the dark regarding such an important issue?
In closing, sharing facts with the residents through public forums and the press is not a right reserved only for the party that currently holds the majority, rather, it is a duty shared equally by all public officials. I find that when we provide people with the facts, they tend to make better decisions, are less prone to fear and uncertainty, and have greater confidence in their government. Perhaps most importantly, we must remember that disagreement is not a bad thing and it need not divide us. In fact, I humbly submit that disagreement is essential in a healthy democracy.
As one of your elected officials, I will continue to do my best to provide everyone with the facts, and trust you to form your own opinions.