Newspaper correction & rural etiquette, please!

In my letter to the editor of the Brandon Reporter on 2/16/24, I wrote about the amount of spending our selectboards and school boards are responsible for and the extra funds they have spent over the past year or so.  My point was to say it is concerning that the board members may want to continue at this high level of spending, and the effect on our taxes for what is being proposed.  We should consider carefully who we elect or the costs of living in Brandon will continue to rise.  The editor of the newspaper added a heading to my article that said, “Proposed budget measures are reckless spending.”  I did not write this or say this.  If I were to add a title, which I didn’t realize I should, it could have said, “Big spending by our elected officials.  Vote wisely.”  I feel the need to clarify this editor note to my writing as it changed the meaning of my letter.  Each reader should interpret as they wish without edits that create drama and misinformation.

In regard to the pointed article on page 14 of the Feb 21, 2024 issue of the Brandon Reporter, there is no author name.  There should be a writer name on every article written in our local newspaper.  As I read this article, my heart sank.  In a rural community, we “know” many things about the people in it.  People are more accountable than in a city because everyone knows you and sees you.  Your actions follow you for years to come, and likely, your boss and your mother will hear eventually.  When negative items are cherrypicked to defame someone before an election, the question is always why?  Is this a target at an individual or their way of life or their socioeconomic status?  We all know that blue collar and white collar folks work differently, take different vacations, listen to different music, enjoy different types of art or none at all, and have a different sense of humor.  What is acceptable to one is not acceptable to the other, for sure.   In a rural community, we rely on both blue collar and white collar workers to keep our town running.  If we think either is saying something inappropriately, unless they are an elected official where we should be talking about their votes and not the person, it simply isn’t done to single out people as a rule of etiquette, and especially people who have stepped out of their comfort zone to serve their community that they feel is in need of guidance.  That does not mean we don’t let “the person” know if we are disappointed in their choices, out of respect for the individuals, and to hear their side. I spoke with Ray Marcoux when he announced his candidacy for selectboard.  What I heard was someone deeply concerned about their community, state and country, someone who works multiple jobs, who helps elderly folks when needed with wood and checking in, and takes care of his family.  Each and every person is entitled to take the cherry picked facebook posts and judge Ray and vote as they wish.  More likely, people will remember him at a funeral or helping someone or as a working man.  However, in a rural community, targeting a person to get people not to vote for them is quite simply, tasteless.  We always focus on the positives of what the other candidates have to offer.  This newspaper may be responsible for having no other blue collar or white collar folks run for office in the future, for fear of the power of the writers.  Is that what we want in our community?  Rural etiquette has always been polite, no matter the disagreements we have on the issues.  Let’s return to that, so we don’t discourage others from serving our town.  Brandon Reporter needs to do better.

Sharon Stearns

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