To The Daily Sun,
Do you ever have one of those evenings where you feel both disappointment and pride in your community all at the same time? Well, that is what I experienced when I attended the posted Belknap County Delegation meeting on Tuesday evening.
Although I feel it is important to stay involved in the community, like so many of us, I am busy and try to choose meetings I attend wisely. Therefore, I must admit it is not usually on the top of my list to attend a Belknap County Delegation meeting. However, I knew that I needed to fit time into my schedule to attend this specific meeting because it was my understanding that the delegation was meeting to reconsider their decision to make significant cuts to the Belknap County budget. Simply put, this meeting was important to me because I care about this community and am very concerned about the short-sighted funding cuts in the approved budget and the adverse effect it will have on our county.
Why was I disappointed? During this meeting, I quickly learned that 11 of our 17 elected county representatives did NOT show up. That is correct, 11 of 17, no shows! Those 11 individuals knew that the plan was to reconsider the budget and they all knew that it would require nine representatives to attend to constitute a quorum. I am no math whiz, but it is not difficult to figure out that was not possible with just six of our representatives present.
Our county budget is important and will impact everything from the staffing at the new Community Corrections Center, the Sheriff's Department, Genesis Mental Health, Meals on Wheels, Belknap EDC, Conservation and the list goes on. Undoubtedly something on that very long list will be important to you too. So yes, it was incredibly disheartening and, in my humble opinion, unacceptable that 11 of our 17 representatives chose not to show up.
Why am I proud? I walked in at 5:50 p.m. to a standing-room-only crowd with people overflowed into the hallways. I thought, "Yes. People care and this is democracy at work." I am grateful to the six county representatives and the three county commissioners who demonstrated, by their attendance, the importance to them of reconsidering the budget and their willingness to hear from their constituents.
I appreciated the dialogue, their thoughtful answers to questions and, as importantly, their willingness to listen to their constituents who spoke intelligently, eloquently and with sincere concern regarding the budget cuts. Thank you Belknap County Representatives David Huot, Peter Spanos, Don Flanders, Valerie Fraser, Dennis Fields and Timothy Lang. Thank you also to Belknap County Commissioners David DeVoy, Hunter Taylor and Glen Waring. Your presence was noted and will be remembered.
To the 11 representatives that did not attend, Marc Abear, Glen Aldrich, Norman Silber, Herb Vadney, Michael Maloney, Peter Varney, John Plummer, Michael Sylvia, Barbara Comtois, Ray Howard, and Robert Fischer, please know that your absence was also noted and will be remembered. I, and those other Belknap County residents who gave up their Tuesday evening, would like to better understand why you chose not to attend.
How though can we have civil discourse and hope to understand each other's views if you refuse to show up? You signed up to be the voice of your constituents and now it is time for you to respect the fact that not all your constituent's voices will echo yours. I, for one, am disappointed that you did not afford me and others an opportunity to share our views, insights and experiences in this county we call home and love very much. Belknap County citizens deserve better.