Islanders need frank dialogue, not personal attacks | Editorial

  • Thursday, November 2, 2017 3:01pm
  • Opinion

In election times, feelings and passions run high. Mercer Island’s City Council races are no exception.

In recent days, a few passionate Mercer Island citizens have publicly disagreed with the paper’s endorsements in this election and have charged members of the Reporter’s editorial board with bias based on past political affiliations. Board members reject this charge and make their decisions independent of their past political affiliations. We evaluate candidates’ statements in our interview with them and make our decisions on the basis of these statements.

The Reporter fully upholds everyone’s freedom of speech; it’s one of the main reasons why residents serve on this community newspaper’s editorial board.

But, we do not believe that disparaging personal comments are a commendable exhibition of first amendment rights. Rather they inhibit dialogue and can fuel a showcase of anger, negativity and acrimony — behavior that does not induce, inspire or support constructive civil discourse — and ultimately undermines this community.

Personal attacks result in hardening of opinions, hurt feelings and damaged reputations. They do nothing to develop solutions to our city’s challenges. Moreover, these attacks dampen and threaten the spirit of volunteerism that is a cornerstone of the Mercer Island community. Scores of our neighbors volunteer thousands of hours on city commissions, public committees, this editorial board and, yes as elected officials (our city council members receive $200 per month for the many hours they devote) to better this community.

We urge residents to recognize that they can have honest differences with one another and with the Mercer Island Editorial Board, but we need to focus on the differences, not the persons.

Inflammatory language that impugns reputations and assails community volunteers is not indicative of citizenry who care about fellow community members.

We are committed to open and frank dialogue. We believe this is what will create better understanding and result in a strong, positive place to live.

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