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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Disrespect, intolerance do not belong in board meetings

My wife and I are shocked and very distressed to read about the resignation of our school board chairman.

Our county has forfeited his effective leadership, considered opinions, deliberative judgement and rich insights of professional and personal experience, and interfered grievously in his emotional and family life.

We have been aware of and dismayed about the behavior demonstrated toward each member at the two most recent board meetings and are shocked that there is such seeming disrespect and intolerance toward each other in our lovely community.

I have known Jeff Chance since my earliest days working for the Central North Carolina Council, BSA. He is, in my opinion, a servant leader and a volunteer’s volunteer. He has consistently been involved in all those positive activities that build up and strengthen this wide community and its citizenry.

Well expressed at the October board meeting was the fact that every citizen has a right to voice his or her opinion. To be able to do so is a lasting gift; a First Amendment guaranteed right to every citizen in this country. None of us, however, is guaranteed the right to disrupt a meeting, drown out others with a loud voice, or make threats against the life of another because of a difference of opinion. Implicit in this revered amendment is that other people have the same right to express differing opinions and each of us should expect and be prepared to respectfully listen. This is how we make progress and continue to live together in community.

In these energizing days of renewal across the entire county, this very sad story headlined in our local paper should cause us to step back for serious reflection. We are privileged to live in a county where people give selflessly to serve institutions and organizations to help make decisions and policy that attempt to benefit us all.

In every future public forum held to educate and exchange opinions, let all of us be more aware of the lasting gift of our democracy and its guaranteed rights. And let us always want to respond only with the deepest gratitude and a resolve to engage in proper ways to the demands of participatory citizenship.

Jim Sawyer
Albemarle