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Forum, Aug. 20: Support the Candidates; Too Much for a Library; Robin Williams and Ourselves

Consider Jim Masland, But Vote

To the Editor:

As we look around the world, we see the tragedies that play out when a country is ruled by a dysfunctional, corrupt government. The primaries and the midterm elections are coming up soon. Unfortunately, if history repeats itself, turnout will certainly not be universal. Individuals who don’t vote probably consider themselves very patriotic; we would not be a bit surprised if those same individuals will be the first to complain about our elected officials being corrupt and incompetent.

When you don’t participate in the election process, and don’t respect public officials, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy that only corrupt and incompetent individuals run for office.

For the most part, we are fortunate to have good people who wish to represent us. If you live on the Vermont side of the Upper Valley, we would ask you to consider sending Jim Masland back to the Vermont Legislature. We first met Jim years ago at a Habitat for Humanity building project. Jim has been a site supervisor every Saturday for years. He supervises students, community and church groups matching their individual skills with work to be done building energy-efficient homes for people who otherwise couldn’t afford them. Over the years that Jim has represented us, we have been so impressed as to how accessible he has been. Although we might not agree on all issues, he listens to all perspectives and then clearly states his position. Jim has shown himself to be knowledgeable on the issues before the Legislature, and when not, actively seeks out learning opportunities. He really embodies the concept of a citizen legislator.

Too many of our service men and women have sacrificed their lives for us to have the privilege to vote for our policy makers; but it is not only a privilege, it is really our civic responsibility not to have them made that sacrifice in vain.

Paul and Wendy Manganiello


The Two Worthiest Candidates

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of Irv Thomae and Jill Michaels, who are seeking election to the Vermont Legislature in the Aug. 26 Democratic primary, representing Norwich, Thetford, Sharon and Strafford.

I represented Norwich (and a portion of Wilder) in the Vermont House 30 years ago. While much has changed since then, much has also remained constant. The topics that earn their way into campaign brochures change, but the fervor of discussion does not. The legislative process in the Vermont House means participating on one of 14 committees, each of which has a relatively narrow focus. While there may be multiple campaign topics generating arguments and promises, the fact is that a member of the House — especially a new member — focuses on the matters in her or his committee. There is the possibility of leadership on matters in committee, but action on the broader general topics tends to be reactive rather than active. Notwithstanding the most erudite, earnest rhetoric describing the stands on major topics to be taken by each candidate, impact on most issues is very limited, and the four candidates appear to have similar views. What’s important is understanding, through real experience in the political and business communities, how to make the committee structure work for the benefit of its citizens through effective collaborative effort.

Irv Thomae will make the process work. He listens and has the intelligence and hands-on experience working toward informed, positive results. As the only candidate from Windsor County in this district spanning two counties, he will be positioned to connect and have input with House and Senate members from both counties.

Jill Michaels gets things done. From her work in sustainable economic development to her deep commitment and leadership in matters impacting and supporting women, she will take a critical perspective founded in experience to Montpelier for our district.

While all four Democratic candidates are worthy of support, I hope you will join me in voting for Irv and Jill on Aug. 26. They will represent us well.

Jack Candon


Too Much for a Town Library

To the Editor:

The $1.1 million Weathersfield Library addition is on the ballot (again) for the Aug. 26 primary election. Although soundly defeated in the 2014 Town Meeting vote, it has been reintroduced in this off-peak election. I guess the hope is that only those who want it will show up for the Aug. 26 vote. This election typically has a poor voter turnout.

We don’t need a larger library and we would be better served by using the libraries in surrounding towns. Does the $1.1 million include books, computers and added librarian time? More taxes will be required for those things. There are 555 library card holders, only about 20 percent of the town population. And even 20 percent doesn’t justify a $1.1 million expense. How many of you have a card and haven’t used the library in many years? And don’t forget, we will probably be asked to fund an addition to the Town Hall in the near future. If you are against the library addition make sure you vote Aug. 26.

Robert Menthe


Robin Williams and Ourselves

To the Editor:

The death of Robin Williams prompted me to watch many of his interviews and stand-up performances to find the man and his artistry. I saw his warmth, kindness and generosity while he made us laugh, and the many ways he showed us ourselves and our own follies in his mirror of humor. Like the Fool from King Lear, the archetypal wise fool and sacred clown, he showed us many truths while he mimicked and mocked. Without meanness or cruelty, he shared the joy and freedom we might find through humor and wise insight. His tour entitled “Weapons of Self Destruction,” a masterpiece of comedy, seems ironically titled now, but as Williams’ work was never only about himself, his personal demons ­—­ whether of addiction, depression or Parkinson’s Disease — but also at the same time about us, we might pause at his suicide with the very serious question, “How are we too destroying ourselves?”

Robin Williams was a cultural critic who tried to show us a path of liberation through humor and insight. His personal life has ended now, but he has left behind an extraordinary body of work, a wake of wise genius, for our ongoing illumination and delight.

Cecelia Blair