Letter: Shelton voters should look at candidates based on vision, not labels

To the Editor:

Yesterday I read a Letter to the Editor from John Anglace, president of the Shelton Board of Aldermen. It was a letter about Republican P&Z challenger Chris Jones, who, according to Anglace, cannot possibly be trusted by Shelton voters because he was previously a (gasp!) Democrat.

With the Republican primary around the corner, I get why Anglace would write such a letter-- but it’s disappointing. You’d think after 28 years on the BOA, Mr. Anglace would have a better argument for voters. After all, he could have composed a letter explaining to voters where the town surplus has gone, or why Shelton’s bond rating was recently downgraded. He could have articulated his argument for the two — yes, two — ongoing lawsuits the city has filed against their own Board of Education, or provided insight into his long standing distrust of the BOE.

What I find most disturbing about the letter, however, is that there wasn’t any particular argument against Mr. Jones; just the simple fact that he used to have another letter next to his name. Unfortunately, this type of “partyism” has become a socially accepted form of bias nowadays. When we label people and make assumptions about them according to generalizations and stereotypes, it’s an easy slide into “us” vs “them” mentality. We stop seeing each other as fellow human beings and instead reduce each other to red or blue, liberal or conservative. We dehumanize and reduce our neighbors, our friends, even our family members, into a simple set of opposing views. The opposition. The enemy.

What’s more, when it comes to local politics, the issues aren’t about which side of the aisle you sit on; they’re about things like high-quality education, responsible development, drivable roads, and services for seniors and families. These issues are not about “left” or “right.” They are about our shared values and collective ideals. They’re about our community.

This election season, Shelton has the opportunity to look at candidates- not based on labels, but based on vision. Candidates with true passion for our community and a commitment to doing more than just maintaining the status quo. My hope is that Shelton will go to the polls this year with a clear understanding of our issues, a shared vision for our future and a vote for the candidates who will help us get there.

Amanda Kilmartin