Profiles in Courage

I haven’t written in some time, and looking over previous posts, I notice that I’ve spent a lot of time criticizing various local representatives (deserving or not). I have always felt that trust and transparency are critical to representative government, and today I’d like to focus on two local elected officials who in the last several weeks have personified what it means to be a public servant.

In 1956, John F Kennedy wrote a book called “Profiles in Courage” in which he told the stories of Americans who have done the right thing even when it’s the hard thing. People who have withstood intense threats and criticism from former friends and allies to do what is right for the people they serve.

Whatever the result of the SK town council’s investigation, we have two of our own profiles in courage to celebrate. School Committee member Paula Whitford and Town Councilor Jess Rose deserve our thanks and praise for pushing this important matter forward and refusing to bend to intense pressure from their former supporters. I didn’t support or vote for either last year, but both have done the right thing when it mattered, so I will support them in the future.

Jess Rose was a driving force (along with Deb Bergner) in initiating the investigation of the AFL-CIO mailer. She has come under extreme pressure by many on social media, consisting mostly of people who supported her campaign. Some of the strongest criticism has come from former SC chair Stephanie Canter, who has relentlessly attacked Jess on both Facebook and Twitter in an attempt to defend the indefensible. Jess has remained strong and continues to demand that answers be forthcoming and accountability be provided.

Paula Whitford was instrumental in bringing the school committee together to discuss the future of superintendent Savastano in last week’s school committee meeting. No one knows what transpired in the 3 hour executive session but I have no doubt that Paula advocated strongly for transparency and truth.

It’s interesting that the most obvious “right things” are often the hardest and costliest to do. Both Paula and Jess are relative newcomers to politics and have relied on the support of the very people currently attacking them to get where they are. Their actions were not easy and they deserve our thanks and respect. We are going to find out what happened, and that would not be the case without these profiles in courage.

In closing, I’ll repeat what I have told both of them. If you lose support for doing the right thing, then that support was not worth having in the first place.

Thank you Jess and Paula.

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