After long hours of deliberation, and citing the high quality of all three candidates, the Montpelier City Council today chose Jack McCullough to serve in the vacant District 2 Council seat.
STATEMENT FROM THE MONTPELIER CITY COUNCIL:
As members of our community, we have been saddened to see the recent vitriol, personal attacks, and absurd insinuations coming from a number of members of our community on various "sides" over the past several months. We put "sides" in quotation marks, because it seems absurd to even use that language of division to describe our community. It is customary for Council to sit passively and not to respond to individuals who attack us or others personally - either in a Council session or in a public forum. However, we are breaking that custom to call out this behavior. We find it unacceptable - whether we, candidates, or individual community members are the targets. We are all members of this community - neighbors - who are doing the best that we can. This is not an acceptable way to treat neighbors.
Last term, the Council adopted as one of our group norms the principal that we would always try to assume best intentions. That is, when one of our neighbors disagrees with us or makes a comment or an action that could offend us, we won't jump to the conclusion that that they are a horrible person who intends to harm us. Instead, we will assume that, like all of us, they are a reasonable person who is doing the best that they can. This doesn't mean that we don't continue to disagree on issues - it is our responsibility to try to bring all perspectives to the table, listen to each other, and then each Council member must form their own opinion based on that dialogue. We must remember that reasonable people can disagree. We are all members of this community, and long after the contentious issue of the day is forgotten we will continue to be members of this community. You are our neighbors, and we hope to live together in this community for a long time.
We cannot require that our community adopt this mantra of assuming best intentions, but we are asking it of you. Please, before you speak, post or write, stop and take a breath. Before you make a hurtful zinger about that person across from you, remember that they are your neighbor. Disagree with their ideas, but don't question their motives, integrity or sanity.
We acknowledge that we do not always live up to the ideals that we have laid out here. We all will still sometimes make thoughtless hurtful comments. But we are doing the best we can. We know you are too.
As many have surmised, this particular decision was not an easy one. We had three very qualified candidates to choose from. None of them would have been a bad choice, and each would have brought their own perspective to aid in our future decision making. However, even though there was disagreement about who to select, there was no vitriol in our closed-door session. Instead of listening to respond, we listened to understand. That led to several members changing their minds - in multiple directions - throughout the deliberation. None of us felt unheard or disrespected during the process. We chose to recess and reconvene so that no member felt rushed in our decision making process, and so that our community could trust that this was a decision that came from careful deliberation, and not out of exhaustion.
As a council we came at this appointment, not from a perspective of who aligned best with my politics nor from the perspective that we were obligated to appoint the second place candidate, but rather from a perspective of looking at the group we had and evaluating our gaps. Who was this council missing? What value or asset was the council missing? This is, more or less, why the discussion took so long. Every candidate brought very different assets, which made choosing among them extremely difficult.