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Civics

Dear Editor:

Upon reading his comments in last week’s SUN, it seems Darrell Cotton needs a civics lesson. The American form of government he is fond of frequently referring to, known as a “democratic republic,” is the system in which we elect people to represent us. That election process is by majority. If your rhetoric appeals to a majority of voters, you get a majority of votes, and you get to speak for us.

However, Mr. Cotton, in our form of government, the role of protecting the “minority” is the purpose and duty of the courts, and sometimes the free press, but not “majority”-elected politicians. The role of elected leaders is to serve the greatest number of people, not defend one group from another, or serve one over another.

And this gets to the heart of the problem at the town. Mr. Cotton and his friend, Ross Aragon, both seem confused about who they actually serve and represent. They are fond of talking about a mysterious “silent” majority (who don’t vote or attend any meetings) when it suits their bias, as in the case of pushing Wal-Mart and Reservoir Hill amusements.

Or, when it suits them, they can conjure up their “duty” to speak for the minority (also silent!), when their constituents question their ability to make good decisions, as in the case of the Reservoir Hill ballot. A silent, non-voting majority and a silent, non-voting minority to use as you see fit. That’s handy! I guess the best way to be heard is to be silent?

Mr. Cotton seems frightened (“be afraid,” he said) and confused about letting the people have a say in important things. But there are many things, such as raising taxes or changing the town charter, that the people decided history or behavior have shown cannot be entrusted to elected officials. The Reservoir Hill ballot is just one more. But we all know this is not about Reservoir Hill for Darrell and Ross.

If memory serves, Mr. Cotton has run for office unopposed his last three terms. All three times with less than half of the registered voters bothering to weigh in at all. That could make it easy to forget, or get confused about who you actually represent.

Mr. Cotton’s friend, the mayor, seems to need a brush-up on representative government as well, saying most recently for example, “‘We’ don’t want marijuana …,” when the majority of local voters said they did. Is that the “silent majority” or the “silent minority” you are calling “We” Mr. Mayor?

Is this the confusion of men from an earlier time, struggling to cope with modern issues and more active and aware citizens? Or is it just meant to confuse and discourage other people in order to retain what’s left of their waning power? Likely both.

Ann Bubb

This story was posted on April 4, 2013.
  • Brighid

    Ann, you always write the most intelligent, prescient letters that show you have a nuanced understanding of issues. Keep ‘em coming! If you live in town, I think YOU should run town council.