Earlier in the week I attended the Annual General Meeting for the Lanark Federation of Agriculture and last night I was at the Annual Holstein Club Banquet. At both events, I sat among neighbours and friends who shared joy in new babies and upcoming weddings; shared laughter and good-natured ribbing; shared concerns about the effect of the latest NAFTA negotiations on the dairy industry and celebrated each other’s successes and new distinctions as breeders and farm operators. Certainly there were differing opinions in the room on any number of topics from local politics to the superiority of John Deere equipment. But what has always come first, and these two events were no different, is having an underlying respect for your neighbour.
It has been a long and sometimes challenging campaign. At times I’ve wondered if I’m doing the right thing. Surrounded by the people I have known best in this community my whole life, I was reminded why I stepped up to run for Mayor…why I stepped up for all of us: To help end the divisiveness and build bridges, always from a place of respect.
I have spent the last six months talking and listening to folks from one end of our community to the other. Some folks are thinking about broadband and cellular connectivity, some are concerned about affordable housing, some worry about school closures and some don’t really know what any of the issues are. The one concern that comes up again and again however, is the want to heal a divided community.
You’ve heard all kind of things through this election campaign. The finances are terrible, the finances are great! The infrastructure is falling apart, we’re taking care of the roads and bridges! We need to build more houses, we need to be responsible about growth!
What we need is to talk about the big picture. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room; we are a community that needs to heal. You know that my motivation for running is to build bridges, to listen and to always work from a place of respect. It’s time to decide what kind of community we want to live in. Do we want to continue the divisiveness, or are we willing to listen to each other? Do we want another four, five or six years where we keep moving apart or are we all willing to give a little?
No matter what groups you belong to, what ward you live in, or how long you’ve lived here, we need to listen to each other and respect each other. Because we are in this together, folks.
We are all neighbours.