CHOOSING STRATFORD'S FUTURE
The election of the next mayor of Stratford is fast approaching. The past four years have proven to be painful for our young mayoral system and community. There have been many missteps, and missed opportunities.
In thinking about the issues that would be discussed in the coming election, I quickly realized that the issues of 2009, are the same issues that we discussed in 2005, which, interestingly enough, are the same issues we have been discussing in Stratford for almost a generation. The army engine plant, Shakespeare Theatre, educational funding and test scores, senior tax relief, the animal control facility, the underfunding of our pension plan, these are perennial campaign issues. We have talked about the same problems for the last 20 years but have actually addressed very few of them.
What is it then that Stratford's next mayor must bring to the office? Obviously, the next mayor must be someone who has the ability to manage the bureaucracy that is town government. They must be well versed in municipal government and have an understanding of running the business of government.
But beyond simply being a “good manager”, the next mayor must be someone who has the ability to create an environment in Stratford that brings the people of the town together. The next mayor must be someone who sees, not the problems of the past, but the hope and optimism of the future.
The next mayor must be someone who has a belief in the greatness of our town. The next mayor must be totally focused on the future, and bring to work, every day, the belief that today, Stratford can be better than yesterday, and that tomorrow will be even better. Twenty four hours a day seven days a week.
There are issues in Stratford that divide us. If we are not careful we will become a town filled with single mindedness rather than a diverse community of 50,000 people working together towards a common goal.
Frequently we choose to blame others for the problems we face, and have taken little responsibility for our own actions as members of this community. Past responses to problems have been knee jerk and involve little to no consideration of the impact other than the short term feelings of power and instant gratification.
We as a community are better than that. Stratford needs a Mayor who is prepared to stand up and lead our Town. However, one man or woman can not do it by themselves. We live in a community and as a community it is incumbent upon all of us to work together to make our community a better place.
The yelling and screaming, name calling, personal attacks that many in Stratford call ‘discussion” must stop. We must be respectful of each other's opinions and beliefs, we must listen to our neighbors, and, even when we disagree, we must act in a manner that puts Stratford in a good light.
We can choose to blame the mayor, or the town council for the problems we have been dealing with, but the reality is we now have a choice. We can continue down the path that has led us to the same place we have been for twenty years, or we can decide to make a change. We can choose to participate in our town government or we can stay home and complain but do nothing. We can choose to get involved in a positive and meaningful way, or we can continue to call people names and attack them and their families personally when we disagree with them. We can choose to have an impact on Stratford's future.
I choose to be involved because I do believe we can do better. I believe that Stratford, and the people who live here, are good and decent. We have much going for us, but we accomplish little. Our strength lies in the diversity and beauty of our citizenry, but we are weakened by the fact that we too often choose, as individuals, to belittle and berate our neighbors.
Stratford has a choice this year, we can choose to continue to act in the way that has gotten us to where we are, which is lost in the wilderness, or we can choose to unite and walk together into a future that is bright and full of possibilities.
In November of 2009 the choice is yours