Respect, open mindedness, dignity, and empathy. These are qualities that we admire in others and hope to emulate ourselves. These are also qualities that we should demand of our elected leaders. We want our leaders to listen to and encourage diverse opinions, to embrace principles of open government, to approach difficult problems in a nonpartisan manner, and to demonstrate compassion toward all of our citizens.

I’ve attended many City Council meetings and interacted extensively with our current elected leaders. In the last three years, I have watched Council meetings become more heated and contentious, largely because citizens and the minority members of the Council feel that their opinions are not valued or respected. We all, myself included, must take personal responsibility for the general decline in civil discourse in our community. We must work together in a constructive, nonpartisan manner. But our elected officials have a special responsibility to set the right “tone at the top.” They must serve as role models and demonstrate respect and openness in their interactions with each other and with all of Rye’s citizens, including those who disagree with them. Earnest debate of important issues cannot be shut down by interruptions and angry outbursts, nor should important policy decisions be made without the full input of all Council members and the public.

This is why I’ll be voting for Josh Cohn, Sara Goddard, Ben Stacks, and Julie Souza on November 7. These candidates stand for an open, inclusive, and fiscally responsible City government. They have assumed leadership roles in a wide range of community organizations and have demonstrated their personal commitment to civic engagement. We need elected officials that are willing to listen, genuinely receptive to our opinions, and willing to work collaboratively with each other and with interested citizens on practical, affordable solutions.

Josh, Sara, Ben, and Julie have pledged to set a new open-minded and respectful tone at the top and restore much-needed civility to our community. I will give them that opportunity and hold them to that pledge.

— Pamela McGuire