Stop personal attacks

I read with dismay the recent letter to the editor by Ms. Sueayn Wood impugning the character and motivations of our fellow citizens who volunteer to serve on the Planning Commission and on the Selectboard. The tactic—attacking motivation and character—is much easier to make and requires less effort than reasoned arguments about policy. It persists in Washington because it works. It has no place in Vermont where our tradition of Town Meeting is based on an ideal of neighbors working with neighbors to guide the future of their communities.
I am biased in my view on this topic as the spouse of one of the individuals whose character was impugned. Her service to the community is born out of a sense of civic responsibility and a desire to contribute positively to Shelburne’s future.  She dedicates hundreds of hours of her time each year to this work—from bike paths, to work visioning the Route 7 corridor. She receives no pay for her volunteer work and has no ideological bent other than believing passionately in walkable and livable communities.
The passion being generated by the sewer system borders (on both sides of the argument) is a good thing. It is a sign of a healthy and vibrant community. It is one of the things I love about Shelburne and Vermont.
We need to remember, however, that we are all neighbors and volunteers. The fact that Ms. Wood lives near one of the proposed developments probably (and understandably) drives some of her time and passion on this topic. Ideally this passion for the future of Shelburne extends beyond her backyard and has led her to volunteer her time and energy to the community in ways that benefit all residents. If so, I would like to thank her for her service.
In the meantime, I hope that we can all take a deep breath, reflect on what it means to be neighbors, focus on the issues, and continue the business of working for a better, more livable Shelburne.
Scott Giles, Shelburne

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