Maybe something arrived in the local air, with the summer months. Or maybe we were all exhausted by the constant roll of local issues about which we had to care, from major development proposals to all-day kindergarten. Whatever the cause, we seem to have had some months of relative political peace in Tiverton.
For my part, I’ve used the time to figure out what sort of future, exactly, I would advocate for and to think about what it is, exactly, that has led to so much acrimony and division in our town. In a nutshell, I’ve been thinking that we have to return to thinking like a community.
The challenge, of course, is that “thinking like a community” means different things to different people, so I guess the goal should be to work things down to basic principles. The first part of behaving like a community, in other words, is to allow each other to be comfortable expressing what we believe.
One belief that I’ll offer up front is that we have to stop using debt — with the town selling bonds that taxpayers simply have to pay off — as a way of growing town spending. Think of some of the bigger, more-divisive, controversies we’ve had recently. Five-to-seven years ago, we saw major battles over budgets at the financial town meetings. This year, the Tiverton Glen project was a matter of significant disagreement and stress for many who live here. A community is supposed to help relieve stress, not increase it.