We were still away vacationing at the Jersey Shore this summer as I began hearing from neighbors back home in Westfield. So many people are feeling anxious about the path our town has chosen, yet unsure how to react and ease their own despair. Most recently, the Historical Preservation Committee stepped over the storm’s debris and worked at breakneck speed with the Brindle Administration to convert our private property into their social property. By removing our liberty, the Town Council now has final say to the ambitions we have for our homes. 

RELATED: Westfield Approves Historic Homes Law Over Residents’ Objections

The Brindle Administration is now working feverishly to give a small minority of homeowners in Westfield the opportunity to benefit from historic tax abatements, while the rest of the taxpayers in town will be forced to settle up the difference and balance our Town’s bloated budget.   

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RELATED: In Westfield, Historic Designation May Soon Come With a Tax Incentive

“Edward, why are they doing this?” I hear or read most often. One text read, “I want to say something, but you see how scary public comment is during the online Town Council meeting.” Another says to me, “There is no discussion. Mayor Brindle is the only one talking when Councilman Contract is not.  Do you see how defensive they both are? Some of the council are not even paying attention.”

Another frustrated neighbor DMs, “It’s six months into this already. What is the Brindle Administration hiding on Zoom? How come these meetings are not being held outside on Quimby where we can publicly address these matters mask to mask?” 

One neighbor confided, “Sadly, I am afraid to speak up. I fear that I might be roasted by Brindle on Zoom or eaten by her sharks on the Facebook.” 

Feeling salty from the ocean’s breeze, I responded to her, “Will the sharks eat me if I go further out into the LBI surf? Maybe. I’m swimming in their dining room, after all. Yet, if I stay on the beach all day, I will surely be burned by the sun.”

It is not surprising for me to hear from or read about Westfield neighbors in anguish over the physical and fiscal condition of our town. I see what you see. However, it is surprising for me to know who and how many confident-successful people are currently upset about Town matters, yet don’t know how to help each other get our town back in order and onto the right path. 

I’ve heard, read texts or posts from: coaching, PTO,and troop mom and dads; serious contributors to the club, board and religious communities; executives, business owners, builders, realtors; and many young-senior-men-women who hustle, pay tax and keep up their homes. 

I hear from talented people, those both you and I admire every day, who leave me asking, “Gosh, you have great experience and ideas. Why don’t you run for office or put yourself out there with a formal letter to the editor for the betterment of Westfield?”  

So many smart and ambitious neighbors who have ideas and experience to contribute, but are afraid to jump into the deep waters of public service, fearing they will be chewed up by the sharks that patrol local politics.  Who needs the anxiety or stress of swimming in these chilly waters?

You do. We do. Consider that anxiety or stress as the price we pay for our personal and community growth. A person’s confidence grows only by exercising their own voice, especially when there is a chance that voice could meet resistance. A community grows when many people become confident engaging in civil public discussion.    

To sit back safely inside private conversations, while stewing in our anguish over the physical and fiscal condition of our town, is to surely be burned by the harmful social policies the Brindle Administration is employing. To sit back safely with only Mayor Brindle talk-talk-talking when Councilman Contract is not, is to endorse Mayor Brindle removing our liberty to promote a socialist public policy. 

By overcoming our own discomfort for rejection and disagreement, by joining the public conversation via service to Westfield or contributing a letter to the local editor, perhaps the Brindle Administration will begin returning their focus toward getting our town back in order, and back onto the right path.

For Westfield’s sake! Don’t be afraid. Get involved! Admittedly, it is a bit scary swimming the chilly waters of local politics, pushing back on Mayor Brindle’s social agenda. Understand, everyone arrives at their Finding Nemo moment eventually, having so much to offer, yet anxious about taking action themselves, not wanting anything bad to happen to them.  

When you are tired of being burned by Mayor Brindle’s agenda, just keep swimming confidently toward the public’s deep. Those sharks protecting Mayor Brindle’s social policy have no teeth, with only her harmless clown fish (pa)trolling local Facebook.