First of all, I want you to know how very dear, how very precious you all are to me, those of you I have known for years and those of you who are new friends. The greatest pleasure of this campaign, and there have been many, was walking door to door with my walking companions, who ranged in age from 10 to somewhat older than I am (and all good company) and meeting people I had never met before. Many took the time to talk to a stranger at their door, invite her in, and allow her to see more deeply into the heart of the city. Every day, we all commit to our city by living our lives responsibly and hopefully, caring for our families, offering a hand to our neighbors, enhancing our civic space with the beauty of our gardens and the joyful noise of our children’s voices. Many, maybe most, of these people saw no place for themselves in the public square and had no expectation of ever being welcome there. But Hope soldiers along even in the dark, and when it feels the warmth of sunlight and sees a hand extended, Hope doesn’t hesitate. It steps into the light, ready to flourish. I saw this everywhere I went. People who had never felt included were ready to stand up and put their shoulder to the wheel of government alongside everyone else. The poll numbers bear this out. Let’s not step back from each other.
Of course, I’m sorry that we lost the election. But in your comments and words of encouragement since April 5, I see that our shared view of life in Sturgeon Bay has not been dismantled. In fact, we now have proof of the strength of our numbers. One-half (+/-) of voting residents in the largest voter turnout we have seen in recent memory, stood up and claimed their space in the city we all love. You will recall that over the past 18 months, the mayor, et al, have calculated the “vocal minority” of those who disagree with them at around 150. The public record now shows that number to equal the number of his supporters…minus 52 on one particular day.
One thing was not changed by the election results: Opportunity.
The mayor and council, regardless of who they turned out to be, have the opportunity to heal the rift in the community, and it isn’t hard, because most people want it healed. Most people yearn for a unified city. All it takes is the mutual will to meet on common ground, reach across the fracture and start building a bridge. We should be good at that, shouldn’t we, living in this little city of three bridges?
So, let’s not give bitterness shelter here. And let’s not forget that we have each other in a bigger stronger way than we first realized. Stay present to each other. Don’t step back. Let’s say words of encouragement to each other as we meet or pass on the street. I have been buoyed up by so many warm embraces and I have many to give.
There are things we can do to facilitate our hopes: talking, thinking, planning, moving forward…with the occasional party or picnic or a regular meet-up for a beer, someplace where everybody knows your name.
And remember, a piece of city government comes up for renewal every Spring. How appropriate.
Sturgeon Bay, Wis.