We are extremely dismayed about the inappropriate innuendo and unpleasant tone of recent letters to the editor about our town’s citizen volunteers. In fact, Shelburne town boards and commissions are very lucky to have the dedication and caliber and integrity of our citizen volunteers.
We moved to Shelburne in 1996 from a similar-sized town in upstate New York where “good ol’ boy” politics reigned in every facet of town life. In our old town we felt compelled to serve on a number of town committees, including master planning and assessment appeals, for the sake of trying to bring impartial policy perspective into a very political process. We can attest from personal experience that volunteer town service is time-consuming, exhausting, and often thankless.
When we moved to Shelburne, our “antenna were up” to read the political landscape here. It was quickly clear from our many interfaces with town officials from various departments and committees, paid and volunteer, that those who serve Shelburne are interested in promoting good and fair town governance. There may be differences of policy opinion among us, but self-interest is clearly not the motivation of those who serve in Shelburne. There is transparency: candidates for committees are vetted and, if qualified, appointed in public Selectboard meetings. And it is completely legitimate for the town to reexamine old ordinances and provisions like the 15-year-old sewer boundaries to see if they are meeting the needs of the town and its residents today.
We find it galling that a legitimate, public revisiting of an ordinance has led to suggestion of conflict of interest or need for more “documentation” of town volunteers. Because of the quality, dedication, and sacrifice of Shelburne’s volunteers, we have a high level of faith in our town’s procedures and have had the luxury of leaving town service to others.
This is a plea to fellow citizens to keep our discussions on public policy and avoid adding more burden to or impugning the character of our dedicated town volunteers, and a long overdue public thanks from the Van Woert family to Shelburne’s public servants for their time and good work.
Ned and Kay Van Woert, Shelburne