Letter: Mayor defends Avon barn vote
I hear there’s a movement afoot to tar and feather me and run me out of town for my “yes” vote on the barn. This is disappointing on a number of levels, the most important being the chilling effect it may have on Avon residents considering a future run for Town Council. Why volunteer to serve the community when you may be eviscerated in public — and private — by those on the opposing side of a vote you cast? Or worse yet, those with a personal ax to grind taking advantage of a contentious community issue.
The biggest challenge of being an elected, even in a little town like ours, is considering all perspectives — even those delivered on a bed of insults — before determining a course of action. We need to listen hard to both the shouts and the whispers, but at the end of the day, our task is to take the time to dig deep on each issue and vote our conscience. I’ve heard people criticize electeds who change their position on an issue, like that’s a bad thing. If they are doing their homework, giving serious consideration to the opposing view and are not beholden to a puppet master, it is inevitable that will happen from time to time. This is a good thing.
Another concern is the single-issue focus. There are a handful of decisions which previous councilors have made in the 26 years I’ve lived in Avon that made my hair stand on end. Despite this, I always respected their body of work and dedication to the community and assumed they exercised due diligence in making those decisions.
We may not have done a good job at keeping constituents up to speed on everything we are working on at the town of Avon. It’s a full plate of operational and aspirational goals all governed by prudent fiscal management, our primary responsibility. Top of mind for me: attainable housing for the “missing middle,” long-term drought planning, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction, water quality, first-class municipal services, Opportunity Zone initiatives and investments in infrastructure and programs to ensure Avon continues to thrive as a year-round tourist and worker-based economy.
The town of Avon is home to 6,500 full-time residents and 3,500 part-time residents. Of our 3,600 registered voters, 1,984 cast ballots in the Avon election in November. More than 50 Avon residents took the time to provide input on the barn. By my count, we also heard from more than 30 people who live outside Avon’s boundaries who felt compelled to weigh in on the future of the barn.
Thanks to each of you who contributed to the dialogue on the barn. Regardless of the barn’s ultimate fate, and despite the low blows — yes, it really hurt being compared to President Donald Trump — I value and give full consideration to everyone’s input. Stay engaged.
Sarah Smith Hymes
Mayor of Avon