Editorial: Who will run this election season?
The island grapevine is alive with rumors about which members of the Town Council will not be running for re-election. Curiously for this point in the run-up, there is no similar noise about who will try to replace them.
The current council, all five members, will have been together for six years when their term expires at the end of this year. They have worked well and extremely hard, and deserve our thanks. Of course, not everyone approves of all of their decisions over such an extended period of time, but that’s to be expected.
Too frequently, public criticism of the council has gone from reasonable to vitriolic. Charges of serious malfeasance or self-enrichment are absurd and not supported by facts. The public discussion does not benefit from such a tone.
All that aside, political change is often good. It is probably time to introduce fresh perspectives on the issues and to welcome new citizens to service.
Why then is no one stepping forward to compete in the election process? Is it because the community faces some thorny issues that will require tough decisions? The challenges are enough to give anyone pause.
Or it could be that fellow citizens are reluctant to run for office because they fear the slings and arrows they could face.
On a national, state, and sadly local level, the tone of political discussion is too often vengeful and personal. Who among us would want to subject themselves to this?
Here on Block Island we have an opportunity to lower the volume and improve the civility of the discourse. After all, we are close neighbors, and we will all benefit from a healthy exchange of opinions over the next 10 months. We need five good women and men to run this town, to invest countless hours and limitless energy to governing the Town of New Shoreham. Perhaps, among others, some of our self-appointed gadflies might consider making the leap? Doubtless whoever serves will not win universal endorsement for every decision they make. But they will deserve our respect and appreciation for selfless service.