To The Editor:

The right moment never presents itself for harshness, vitriol, and rancor to make a home in the hearts and minds of anyone, especially among neighbors in our small town. This truism is never more apparent now during the COVID-19 crisis. Sadly, no one has been spared its effects - physical emotional, social, and fiscal. 

Now more than ever it is necessary for all folks, including elected officials and candidates, to act with grace and goodwill, set aside debates that can wait, stop political banter, promote unity, and quiet one’s own aspirations for the greater good of all. 

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Candidates Ashley Felice and Mark Hamilton did not serve the aforementioned goals by their letters to the editor (TAP-April 3 & 7). Certainly, they can voice opinions against affordable housing and its location. Clearly, by tossing their hats into the political ring they hope to best their opponents and drive home their disapproval with Mayor Kelly offering themselves as alternatives to governance. However, the relentless prosecutorial tones, particularly in their April 7 letter, seem much especially since everyone’s energies are displaced and if anything folks are seeking hope, kindness, and positivity to get through a given day. By decrying Mayor Kelly as reckless, a poor leader, a seeker of outside interests, and a self-promoter it begged a reply from Mayor Kelly (TAP April 5) which only served to advance their politicking. 

I am of the opinion now isn’t the time to make decisions in any area of life, individually or collectively, that can safely, reasonably, and legally be put in abeyance. That said, it is worth noting the township committee meeting held on March 12th was way before Governor Murphy’s stay-at-home order and social distancing mandate. Further, the coronavirus crisis is nothing if unpredictable. Therefore, what is acceptable one day is advised against the next. Plan A is often shelved for plan B. Things are fluid, so to hold the township committee or Mayor Kelly’s feet to the fire for reversing decisions about when and how meetings will be held (if at all) or business done seems without perspective and out of tune. For example, Zoom and other virtual sites are today’s tour de force. Even faith communities are using technology to keep in touch. I agree it may be challenging for some senior citizens, myself included, but that does not make it wrong for our mayor and committee to utilize these platforms. 

Moving along, I should also like to remark on adjectives. “Amateur Lawyer”, “Duck-n-Dive Kelly, and “Legal Beagles” found in assorted letters to the editor (TAP) between April 3rd through April 7th. These words just extend incivility. Unfortunately, what may be read as taunting and provoking undertones in the initial letter by Ms. Felice and Mr. Hamilton set off a bulwark response of back and forth letters making it less probable to “table contentiousness” the two candidates called for at the end of their April 7th missive.

Let me end by saying the best letter by far featured in TAP between April 3rd and 7th, the one that has my resounding vote, the one that shows the finest of Chatham, that speaks to the needs of others here and elsewhere, and the one that epitomizes leadership in action was authored by Lucy Malatesta (Bridges Outreach...)!

Elected officials, candidates, political wonks should take a page from that playbook.  

Thank you for a chance to express my opinion and with it my genuine wishes for health, calm, and respite from distress for one and all. 

                   “aunt”Jane Devlin

                      Chatham Township