I want to thank Kenny Braitman for his thoughtful letter in last week’s Republican. I offer some comments on a couple of important points he made in his letter.
First, he stressed the critical role the press plays in our community to report what is happening and keep us informed. Only then can we meet our responsibilities in a democracy as informed active citizens. We recognize the critical role the Republican plays in our community and appreciate the increased number of letters to the editor in last week’s paper. The Republican is an important institution which supports our community and individuals.
Second, Mr. Braitman argues we need to vote for local politicians “who believe in community and the value and worth of all people.” Wendell Berry, an agrarian philosopher from Kentucky, says “a healthy community is like a body, for its members mutually support and serve one another.” We need local elected officials who value ALL citizens and promote the interests of the entire community. Thus, it was troubling to learn our commissioners did not know that women in Garrett County have more unequal pay, compared to men, than women in Maryland and women in the nation.
Third, Mr. Braitman expressed concern about “the rich getting richer” and investments “which don’t support society and communities, but rather promote money as their primary goal …” Wendell Berry shares the concern about the industrial exploitation of a locality and local economy in rural areas. He opposes the “colonialist principle” that is ruinous to rural economies; — the assumption that it is permissible to ruin one community or culture for the sake of another. We need local elected officials who respect our local community and the families that make it strong.
For example, when a majority of our community opposes fracking, why are those working to update the comprehensive plan in Garrett County including a provision that will allow fracking in Garrett County if the statewide ban is overturned? Why are some interested in overturning the Maryland state ban on fracking in the next legislative session? This is a bad idea and contrary to the interests of our community. Where are our commissioners on this?
Why do our commissioners refuse to vote on a citizen petition asking them to implement their decision to prohibit fracking wells from being drilled in the Deep Creek Lake Watershed? The petition was endorsed by the Planning Commission and the majority of community members at a public hearing. The commissioners’ refusal to vote on the petition shows disrespect for members of the community and suggests their policy decision was insincere.
Finally, Mr. Braitman argues that investment in our communities helps people gain strength, become creative, entrepreneurial, educated, supportive of one another and more humane. To accomplish this, we must focus on local politics and support those who support and unite our community and adjust how we approach problems and how we interact with others.
Vote for what is best for the members of our community, not for a political party.