By RICHARD DAVIS
We elect people who we hope will reflect what is best in us. That means that they should be held to the highest ethical standards and that they should behave in a respectful manner. Their election by their peers implies that they understand that their actions will be under more scrutiny than the people who elected them.
Recent events in Vernon have put a blemish on the integrity of small town politics everywhere. The chairwoman of the Vernon Selectboard not only allegedly tried to intervene in the outcome of a police action, but also acted in a demeaning manner to the officers involved.
If this was an isolated incident of an abuse of power and an isolated act of arrogance by a public official we should still be outraged.
At the very least, this elected public official needs to make a public apology to all the parties involved.I believe she then needs to resign. I would go so far as to suggest that this official make a good faith effort at making sure this kind of thing is never done again by her.
The current behavioral indiscretion by the Vernon Selectboard chairwoman appears to be a case of bullying by an adult. If that proves to be true, then we have an instance where the behavior of a public official is undermining the efforts of school officials who have been working hard for a number of years to send a message that bullying is not acceptable behavior.
Adult bullying by a publicly elected official is a mean-spirited type of politics that should have no place in Vermont. If we disagree with each other we should be civil enough to be able to speak to each other frankly and to freely express our differences of opinion. In the case of this official, it has been my experience that differences of opinion are not well tolerated and even considered an affront to her way of life.
This current incident between the police and a public official in Vernon is only the most recent in a long line of controversial events in this little town. One has to wonder if there is some sort of toxic force at work that is causing too many public proceedings to be contentious more often than they need to be. There was a time when dealing with people and issues in Vernon was not so contentious and when anger and arrogance were not in the air. I hope for the days when a political candidate from Guilford can canvass door to door in Vernon and not have to worry about being treated as a hostile interloper.
The hope for those days begins by removing any bad apples from the barrel. If laws have been broken, public officials need to pay the price. The public trust has been violated and this Vernon official needs to step back from public life, whether as an elected official or a member of any institutional board, and reflect on her actions and try to make herself a better person.
Richard Davis is a registered nurse and long-time health care advocate. He writes from Guilford and welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One could easily make the connection to a certain town official who on numerous occasions has used her position(s) and personal feelings to influence outcomes of board decisions in this town many times. One has to ask themselves why would someone act in such a way time and time again? A bigger question is why the Selectboard of Winchester allows this type of behavior and does nothing to uphold the public trust?