Public service requires dedication and thick skin

Have you ever been to a town hall meeting before?

Whether it was a Board of Education, Aldermen, or a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting what do all of the boards have in common? The people elected to serve on each and every one of them, which meet to help the city function, are all volunteers.

Some people dedicate a portion of one, five, 10 or more years of their lives to serving on these boards, all with the hope of making the city a better place to live for residents.

These volunteer’s jobs are not always pleasant, though.

Despite having good intentions, these same volunteers sometimes approve controversial development applications, deny students their diplomas for lack of credits, or decline a department’s budget request for more funding because they believe it is what’s best for the community.

Sometimes they are right and other times they are wrong, but in most cases these volunteers are standing for what they believe in and are trying to make Shelton a better place to live.

This is not to say that there aren’t instances where or volunteers that act with ulterior motives, but that while serving on these boards you’re bound to be faced with a situation where your opinion or stance on a topic will leave you subject to the public’s criticism.

Sometimes the criticism is misdirected or unfair, but each November come election time more volunteers throw their name in the hat. Why is that? If there’s no monetary gain, why do people put themselves in positions to be judged and criticized by people who don’t know them personally?

Over the past several weeks several veteran Board of Education members and two Aldermen announced that they will not be running for re election come November.

Board of Education members Win Oppel, Faith Hack, Arlene Liscinsky, Alderman Jack Finn and Alderman Lynn Farrell all said that saying goodbye isn’t easy for them, having served on the board for a number of years.

These are just a few volunteers from boards that play a major role in the community who have most recently decided to call it quits, but they are all symbols for what public servants should strive to be.

This is not to say that any of the named volunteers are perfect by any stretch, but they have all exhibited time and time again that their main priority is the current state or the future of the community.

These positions are ones that won’t make you rich with money, but as Finn said while reading his farewell letter at a recent Democratic Town Committee meeting, the experience will enrich you as a person and also give you the chance to make a difference in other’s lives for the better.

Thank you to all current serving and departing volunteer board members for the effort you put forward into continuing to improve the city of Shelton.