Letter: Why are some elected officials afraid to listen?

To the Editor:

New England has a rich history of public participation in governmental affairs. The Town Meeting was born in New England and the concept of face-to-face discussion between the people and their representatives has served us well.

So why are some of the elected representatives of Trumbull so frightened of listening to the people who elected them? For example, the Board of Education on recent occasions has displayed a reluctant attitude to public comment at their meetings. Also, the majority of the Town Council wanted to “study” my proposal to allow public comments before the Town Council. What exactly is there to “study?” Now the Board of Education refuses to allow a public hearing on the controversial redistricting plan. Why?

Of course some will say that through email or social media, unlike the past, people can instantaneously reach their representatives. While true, there is no substitute for face-to-face contact. If people want to be heard in public, let them speak.

I have heard Republican members of the Town Council state that public comments will afford the public an opportunity to “grandstand” and recently our First Selectman said that he hoped an open forum on redistricting would not become a “lynch mob!” Those comments betray a dangerous mindset that displays contempt for the people and the rich tradition of our New England heritage.

Allowing people to speak in public permits everyone to hear what others are thinking free of any filters or editing. Everyone hears the same message at the same time. I and the majority of my fellow Democrats support the right of the people to speak face to face with those they elected. I urge all elected officials not only to support public comment but to encourage them.

Let’s honor our fellow citizens instead of relegating them to nuisance status. The Board of Education should hold a public forum. While no redistricting plan, no matter its size, will be easy or universally accepted, a transparent and compassionate approach will make acceptance more likely and honor long standing civic traditions.

I urge the Board of Education to reverse their ill-conceived stance and discuss the redistricting plan with their constituents in a public forum at a time and place that maximizes participation. Our community will be better for it.

Vicki Tesoro

Town Council, District 3 (D)