Letter: Bennington, you're better than this

An open letter to Bennington, Vermont:

"C" is for "Community." "C" is for "Civility." "C" is NOT for "Crass." "C" is NOT for "Character Assassination."

Mike Bethel, the man responsible for spawning the upcoming vote for mayor, recently wrote on a local politics Facebook page: "Well, the nastiness of the mayor campaign has started." I regret to inform you, Mike, that you are wrong. In fact, the nastiness of the entire election cycle this year in Bennington has reached an earsplitting, eye-popping and all-around demoralizing zenith as we approach election day this coming Tuesday.

First and foremost, it always takes two to tango. The pro-mayor supporters, coupled with the voice for the non-incombant candidate for select board, have ceaselessly fired volley after volley of anger-laced and often preposterous, accusations, innuendos and outright insulting rhetoric about the current state of Bennington, individuals they wish to see ousted and governance systems they would like to obliterate. It is a commonplace for destructive, scorched earth rhetoric to both escalate and overflow into areas that have no relevance. For example, I myself have been accused by a pro-mayor citizen in a public forum of engaging in an act with our Town Manager that is better reserved for the pornography industry. Other wildly unfounded accusations continue to abound in their published circles.

The anti-mayor voice has not been silent as of late nor above reproach, fighting back with its own brand of belligerent verbiage on the pages of Facebook. And of course, there was "Sign-Ghazi" — wherein a magician or two within the anti-mayor group were accused of allegedly making a few pro-mayor signs simply disappear.

All in all we have endured shameful behaviors from both sides of this contentious equation and it has not worn well on Bennington or its citizenry.

The bottom line: Bennington is so much better than this. The war of words has gone nuclear and as everyone knows — nobody will ever win a nuclear war. Everyone suffers.

So, we respectfully beseech both factions - both pro and anti-mayor: Take a step back, breathe, ratchet it back and at least try to present the very best of Bennington in your final arguments. We know that it within all involved to take the high road and escape the non-stop, primordial battle to see who really rules the muck. Whatever the outcome of the upcoming election, the sun will continue to rise and set and the world will continue to turn.

Remember: "C" is for "Community." "C" is for "Civility." "C" is NOT for "Crass." "C" is NOT for "Character Assassination."

Jeff Grimshaw



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