Letter to the Editor: Should Camden-Rockport alumni be allowed to speak?

Posted:  Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 10:45am
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Let's start with the facts. At the December 20th meeting of the MSAD 28 School Board, I raised my hand during the public comment period to speak. The board chair asked me, "Are you a citizen of Rockport or Camden?" I replied with, "I'm a citizen of Lincolnville, is that good enough to speak?" His response was, "No, not in this case. Sorry." Watch here: https://youtu.be/hyooYbJmWQ0

At their January 10th special meeting about the Mullins MET proposal, they opened the public comment period by stating only Camden and Rockport citizens could speak.

I spent my childhood growing up in Camden and went through the entire Camden-Rockport public school system, from 1st grade all the way until the end of high school. My parents still live in Camden and I have lived in Lincolnville for the past five years. I have great pride that I attended our stellar public school system, and hold it up as a model for how good public education can be. I care about saving the Mary E. Taylor building because valuable infrastructure should never be wasted. The Mullins proposal would be a huge benefit to our entire community, including Lincolnville and Hope, because it would give our citizens much needed access to coworking spaces and all the great educational opportunities that the Mullins proposal outlines.

I have been attending various town, board, and committee meetings since I moved back to Maine five years ago, and I have never seen a citizen stopped from being able to speak during a public comment period. The MSAD 28 School Board absolutely has the right to limit public comment to Camden and Rockport citizens, but should they? Don't the alumni of the Camden-Rockport school system have something to offer the conversation? I have always thought that if a person takes the time to come out and attend a public meeting, their input should always be welcomed. And when it comes to the Mary E. Taylor building, Camden-Rockport alumni that went to school at MET have a unique perspective that should at least be heard at future school board meetings.

 

Josh Gerritsen lives in Lincolnville.