My young family made Westfield our home 45 years ago. We looked forward to putting down permanent roots here based on the town’s reputation, charm, city-commuter options and convenient downtown. So we took the financially terrifying plunge into our money-pit old house ideally located halfway between a short walk to both the neighborhood school and the charming downtown.
Back then, our children (including the ones born here as official natives) walked the dogs and roller-skated in the street and rode bikes downtown and to the nearby library. They spent their modest allowance in the small kid-friendly shops, and used the phones there to call home if their bikes got a flat tire. They chatted daily with the indulgent police officer who directed traffic at Prospect and Broad and they’d sit on the sidewalk and pet the aging German Shepherd of the shoe repair shopowner while I browsed the bookstore. We all marched in the Historical Society parade in colonial costumes and the church bells rang on Sunday mornings.
When I hear people griping that Westfield is losing that charm of yesteryear, I fear they’re missing the larger point. We are all entitled to wax nostalgic for the way things were many years ago or even for the way they were last year or yesterday. We are all entitled to have some apprehension about inevitable changes that remind us how quickly time goes by and how the comfortably familiar must sometimes make way for the unfamiliar. We may have an increasing feeling that, as Wordsworth long ago bemoaned, “the world is too much with us.”
But it’s time to accept the indisputable reality that status quo cannot always be sustained in yesterday’s context, neither fiscally nor culturally – nor should it be. We can debate the details of development projects and cultural evolution, but to impede those things categorically is not love for a town or a way of life – it is an abandonment of the needs of the town that has served us all well throughout its evolution and deserves our service and investment in return.
My grown children are now Westfield homeowners themselves, living around the corner from us with our young grandchildren here in the only town they have ever known. We have a three-generation personal investment in Westfield. We are protective of our town and we want what’s best for its people. So we vote accordingly.
In the current Town Council campaign we are being politically bludgeoned by candidate Como with the scare-tactic of “overdevelopment.” Her campaign literature quotes threaten that Westfield is “about to become a city” and she threatens scary “repercussions of too much too soon” when, in fact, it’s more like “too late” when we compare Westfield to some more enlightened and forward-thinking towns of similar size and socioeconomic stature.
This is the same candidate who, in a past election, campaigned on a ticket with the message that Westfield is a hotbed of crime and we need police patrols at town borders to keep out "unfamiliar" individuals.
I’m a longtime Unaffiliated voter. My vote is earned by candidates who are informed, accomplished, forthright, with a documented record of public service and civic achievement and an awareness of Westfield's place in a larger society. Using those criteria, I have voted variously for both Republican and Democratic candidates for town offices over the years. But I don’t think "she's very nice in person" is an adequate reason to vote for someone to represent my family and my values in government. I find both of the Council candidates to be very nice in person. I only find one of them to be qualified and sufficiently well informed to represent my family's years of personal investment in this town.
There is no such thing as running on a party-financed ticket, being a party donor and promoter, and then insisting that you’re not political as candidate Como has claimed. It insults voters to make such a claim when you run for political office and you take money and tactical advisories from a political party – either party. It is dishonest to claim otherwise.
When a candidate says she should be elected so residents’ “voices can be heard,” what does that mean? Our current representatives didn’t just land here from Mars, assigned by some random celestial lottery. They are in place because people’s voices ARE heard. That’s what votes are for. We call that democracy and if we’re lucky we’ll get through the next few years without forgetting what that is. If you want your voice heard, vote. And then own your vote and what it will stand for.
Based on her character, her candor, her professional and intellectual qualifications, her community service experience, her performance as a current councilwoman, and her understanding of how to keep our town competitive and fiscally and culturally healthy by blending the best of yesterday with the best of tomorrow, I will cast my vote for Emily Root for Westfield Town Council.
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