Edgewood’s town government has boiled over—into personal attacks, name calling and unproven allegations of corruption. It’s time we remembered that we are all neighbors here, and we need to work together if this town hopes to thrive.
Mayor John Bassett, as the leader of the community, it is incumbent on you to set a higher standard of behavior—at least when you are at the head of the seat of town government in a public meeting.
Questions have been raised by members of the public. While the group criticizing the mayor—along with councilors John Abrams and Linda Holle—has been short on proof of their allegations, they have a right to ask questions and to be heard, and it’s your job to hear them.
Historically, the town has allowed speakers to defer their allotted time to another person. Not everyone is comfortable speaking publicly, and this is a common practice in meetings run by parliamentary procedure. Why bring the ire of the community raining down on your heads when a simple change would allow people to feel heard more fully?
The most recent town council meetings have been an exhibition of bad behavior nearly all the way around.
Members of the public catcalling the mayor, Abrams and Holle while they speak, is unnecessary and unhelpful. Organizing the community as the Edgewood CORE group has done is part of our style of democracy. Ask questions. Raise concerns. Look for proof. Get involved. But leave the personal attacks at home. Remember we are neighbors here.
The suggestion that because councilors Sherry Abraham and Audrey Jaramillo frequently vote at odds with Holle and Abrams does not mean there is backroom dealing going on. They also frequently vote unanimously.
The behavior exhibited by both the town government and the public is exactly the kind of behavior that turns people off to politics, and elected officials are the last people who should discourage public participation.
Edgewood’s meetings have gotten so bad it may be necessary to call in a mediator, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
The town could implement a few simple changes that would make things better immediately:
• Double the public comment time to 4 minutes, and allow people to defer time to each other, as is customary. People will come up to the podium and say all kinds of things you may not want to hear, but it’s your job as elected officials to provide that forum.
• Create a clear workflow for getting items onto the town agenda, and make that information public. Then use it.
• Post every single public document that you can on your website. Every single document. We understand that some things, like personnel records, are confidential. Post everything else. And while you’re at it, set up a livestream for your meetings.
• Calm down. The political climate in our nation right now is vicious, but that is not who we are as a community. All of you know how to behave better—as has been evident for years. Don’t succumb to the fever that has gripped national politics. You can do better than that.
• Remember that we are neighbors. We go to the same stores and churches, and we send our kids and grandkids to the same schools. Even when we disagree, most of us want our community to be better. Those people who are taking the time out of their busy lives to attend those meetings—as you also are—deserve the respect of being people engaged in the civic process. Town council meetings are no place for the kind of childish fighting that you have hosted recently. You have been elected to lead our community. Lead by example.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at email@example.com.