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Careful consideration of important issues by elected officials, which results in differing and/or narrow votes, is no reason to resort to personal attack and name-calling (Letter to the Editor “Chicken-Little World of Selectman Conley” by Patrick Hughes, Ayer Public Spirit, Friday, April 7, page A4).

The complex issues my fellow selectmen and I face nearly every meeting present the possibility where reasonable people may disagree. Sometimes decisions on close issues result in differing, narrow votes. This is normal and natural in a democracy. In true democratic form, the questions and arguments go both ways. As selectmen we must think clearly and choose wisely because our decisions and policies affect the future of our town.

Honest differences of opinion that result in one-vote majorities are a reality of the give-and-take of our democratic process. Regardless of which way a narrow vote goes, it permits open and candid debate resulting in better ideas. Ayer is benefited by such discussion and her residents should expect no less. Imagine if it were otherwise. There would be a guaranteed, one-sided, slam-dunk vote, without discussion, without question, without inquiry, without debate, without input and without explanation, except for those who purportedly espouse the majority opinion.

Ayer’s government belongs to all its residents, not to a dominant few who wish to exclude those who don’t agree with them.

Ayer’s residents deserve the best information selectmen can reasonably gather. The surest way to that end is to ask all the necessary questions that provide the most information so that the best decisions are made. Sometimes those questions are difficult and tough but the right to question is a beam of light in a democratic system of government. Let us not dim or switch off that light.

Open government, which is every citizen’s birthright, is a principle that I will stand for and stand by regardless of any opposition to it. If Ayer residents demand nothing else from their town leaders, it should be that Abraham Lincoln’s vision of government of the people, by the people, and for the people is alive, well and expected.

When I ran for selectman I pledged to the people of Ayer we would have an open government with truth, fairness and respect. No amount of name-calling will deter me from that pledge or the democratic process.

Respectfully,

PAULINE CONLEY

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