Frequently Asked Questions!
Q: What do you mean by “transparency”? I don’t want the town to get in trouble!
A: Neither do I! I don’t use transparency to mean that we should set up clotheslines outside of town hall and air all our dirty laundry. What I do believe is that light is a disinfectant, and that in a vacuum people will use their imaginations to dream up even bigger hairier monsters than what is being concealed. To me, transparency means being proactive about notifications and releasing information whenever possible. For example: a statement that effectively says “You may have heard about personnel issues in town, and we are legally not allowed to discuss those. The council has engaged independent investigations to explore these matters and we will continue to provide a high level of accountability and be as transparent as possible. Thank you for your understanding and patience.” Or hiring a communications expert to help us with that.
Q: I haven’t seen you at my favorite event/club/committee. How can you be on council if you haven’t been engaged in Cheverly?
A: Campaigns are built on sound bites and bullet points, easily digestible information. I might not have a long list of clubs and committees to rattle off, beyond serving on the executive committee of Progressive Cheverly, but is that really disqualifying? I know so many wonderful folks who spend their time advocating and helping their community in harder-to-articulate ways: caring for and supporting neighbors in need, advocating for others in less-than-official capacities, connecting needs to resources in ways big and small but all “below the radar.”
There are a lot of ways to be involved in your community, just as there are a lot of ways to define what and who your community is. Community goes so far beyond clubs and committees, and when we narrow our definitions of community we invalidate the experience of thousands of our residents who aren’t involved in those ways.
Q: How can you possibly do a good job with the Cheverly budget if you’ve never worked on the Cheverly budget process?
A: I agree that the Cheverly budget is so so important! I have created and managed multi-million dollar budgets on the federal level, which is a much more rigorous and fraught process than the Cheverly budget process. I have experience working with stakeholders with directly competing priorities to come together and create a budget that is a workable compromise for all parties. Having observed as much as I can of the Cheverly budget process, I can say with confidence that my experience is more than sufficient, and my commitment to understanding the priorities of my constituents and advocating for them is essential.
Q: Are you part of a slate/clique/cabal?
A: I am not! I am friendly with and supportive of other candidates. I have not agreed to any set of policies or priorities with anyone; I am committed to being directed by my constituents’ priorities and needs, and not any predetermined group efforts. Like any Cheverly resident, I have a preferred mayoral candidate and I’m happy to talk to anyone who is interested about why I support her.
Q: Why are you running?
A: As I’ve lived in Cheverly longer and gotten progressively more involved in local politics, I’ve noticed that it takes a lot of work to be an engaged and informed citizen in Cheverly. Finding meeting minutes on the hard-to-navigate town website, digging your newsletter out from a pile of junk mail on your table, making the time to attend a long and often unwelcoming meeting--if you want your voice to be heard in Cheverly, you have to work for it, and I want to change that. I want to make it easy to find the info you need and have your needs met; I’ve laid out some of those ideas on my website at www.nicolebryner.com
Q: Yes, but you don’t know the right people/you haven’t participated in the right groups/you haven’t lived here the right amount of time. You haven’t earned the right to run for or sit on council!
A: That’s not a question, so here are some questions in response:
Who decides who the right people are, and how do the rest of the residents of Cheverly feel about not being considered the right people? How do we engage more of the town when we continue to have a narrow definition of which types of people qualify for elected office?
Why are only some groups and activities considered qualifying as experience, when people and communities are so diverse, as are the ways in which we serve and learn? What are we really saying when we question someone’s fitness for office based on whether we’ve seen them at the same events and activities as us?
How many years does one have to have lived in Cheverly to understand the community’s needs, and to be considered suitable to represent the community? What qualities does someone who’s lived here longer possess over someone who hasn’t?
Is a seat on Council/as mayor a prize to be won by someone who has checked a certain number of boxes? Or is at a role we elect someone to when we believe that they will do the hard work of listening, advocating, problem-solving, and connecting? And if we truly believe the former, who are we excluding from town leadership as a result?