Hashtags and letters

A door hanger has gone up on a few doors that says “If you are a first time voter, bring a government ID, check stub, or utility bill with you.” The phrasing is unfortunately a little vague but it is a shortened version of what it says on the Maryland election board website itself.

Screenshot taken from the MD Board of Elections Website

Screenshot taken from the MD Board of Elections Website

Some residents were really quick to start using a hashtag on this with claims of voter suppression. In the meantime, Beth quickly clarified, paused the use of the hangers while she confirmed the guidance on the Board of Elections site, triple checked her research, and took steps to make sure everyone has the correct information.

I wish we were not so quick to assume the worst of people, particularly of our own neighbors.

Criticizing candidates is a natural byproduct of an election, but I prefer that we stick to their statements and actions as candidates and elected officials, and not make accusations about their motivations without doing a bit of research.

 

Speaking of criticism, many of you in Ward 3 have probably received by now a letter from Cheverly resident Glenn Ivey. I am grateful that Glenn, with his considerable experience as a leader in our county and state, believes in me and my ability to be an effective councilmember.

Glenn’s letter was frank about the lack of information in town around recent retirements and investigations, and about the positions of some of our candidates on whether or not information surrounding these should be shared with the town. Something I have been struck by since the letters were mailed is the reaction in town to that frankness—not on facebook and the exchange, where this topic has been discussed for a while, but while door knocking.

I have encountered so many residents who have said some variation of “I had no idea this was happening here!” Folks are surprised that the council and mayor have not taken any steps to provide context around the abrupt departure of some of our town officials, and that they were not at least aware of independent investigations having taken place. And they are grateful that someone is at least letting them know.

 

I want to underline this point: for many of our neighbors, the first time they are hearing about any of this is from a letter from a concerned neighbor. Not from the town itself. How different might all of these conversations be today if the town had been proactive and sent their own letter months ago, or had at any point communicated a plan for how all of this would be addressed and communicated in a legally acceptable way? How can we do a better job of keeping our residents who aren’t plugged in to the exchange and facebook up to date and informed?

This is my top priority: to make sure that residents have ways to get the information they want and need. So that a privately-run listserv is not the primary way our residents get information (and misinformation) that should be coming from the town. So that residents who have service requests and questions can find that information easily and intuitively. So that there are avenues for dialogue that inform policy and decision making broadly. So that there is trust between residents and their government again.