I do not usually do this but I honestly believe that a cogent reply to Mr. Ron Pulcer would not only be appropriate, but it may shed some light on the general view I have on politics in Rutland Town and how I believe it to be far superior to politics in general in our country today. And I am doing this specifically because, although I disagree with Mr. Pulcer’s arguments or beliefs, I find him a generally nice guy, intelligent, caring and upbeat and I have conversed with him on many occasions at our local Transfer Station and elsewhere.
I believe we can disagree and be civil and I try my very best not to let politics and ideology overcome our basic humanity as good people. It serves no useful purpose to dehumanize or attack the motives or character of decent citizens who have put themselves in the spotlight as political servants of their communities. Not only does this tactic detract from their message, but it also degrades the entire argument into a much more personal diatribe. We can, and should, do better.
One of the great failures of government bodies throughout the country has been their willingness to cave in to the wishes of vocal minorities on any issue of concern, no matter how eloquently expressed, and forget they have been put in office by a majority to serve an entire constituency. Instead, we have seen over and over decisions made in haste responding to minorities of one, two or a few relative to the total constituency of citizenry. This is not democracy, is not appropriate, and is not the mandate given to our elected leaders at any level, local, state or national; and it is a severe assault on majority rule in our country. I continue to have the pride in my town that it has not fallen to this minority governance.
Mr. Pulcer talks about “welcoming newcomers” but is quite sparse in citing any instances of Rutland Town government not welcoming anyone into our community, and rightly so. There are none to cite and that is precisely why our town should be praised, not criticized, for its inclusionary attitude over generations in this county.
I have been privileged to have been a part of this inclusion since 1970 when I chose to raise my family here and try and contribute to its progressive growth and development. As I look back at those 50-plus years and my service as moderator, Recreation Commission chairman, Select Board member, justice of the peace and BCA member, state representative in Montpelier (as a Democrat), Regional Ambulance Board member, volunteer fireman, and 17-year educator at RTS, I cannot even begin to tell you how many wonderful friends and citizens of our town I have been privileged to work with to make this town the great place it is, the welcoming place it is, the affordable place it is, the home that it is to great people. Those great people certainly include Ron Pulcer and those 10 or more citizens of our town who came to us with their request for a resolution of inclusion.
Ron cites towns that have adopted this resolution but he fails to state there are 255 municipalities in Vermont and he has cited eight as his magnanimous majority. He feels we are to be shamed for being part of a majority of 247 out of 255 — a great illustration of how shaming is used to foster minority over majority views and fortunately for good government, Rutland Town has been able to rise above that. Actions always speak louder than words and the actions of Rutland Town have always spoken very loudly for inclusion of all who choose to join our community.
I ran for office once again, at 76, because I saw a need for some balance in ideology in our town government. I have always felt that a healthy dialogue representing many different viewpoints always led to a more balanced solution to many challenges that face executives trying to run a town.
We have some liberal views, we have some more conservative views, we have some libertarian views and I believe that is very healthy for our town. That view has proven itself over decades and the proof is the affordability to live, work and play in a beautiful community. And it gives me great pride to let you know that, even with the challenges we have faced this entire year and beyond, our tax rate will continue to be stable, low and still affordable to our citizens, our roads continue to be well maintained, our school continued to educate our kids, in person, and our pool and recreational facilities are now open for inclusion of all, both town residents and visitors.
I know, in my heart and in my mind, the great majority of my fellow citizens feel exactly as I do in praising our town’s excellence. These are not word salad pronouncements. They are tangible, productive, positive reasons why we serve our community and I believe generations of us have done that very well.
Donald J. Chioffi lives in Rutland Town.