To the Editor:

Effective government requires collaboration and compromise, which rest on a foundation of mutual respect and good-faith commitment to honest deliberation. The debate on the plastic bag ordinance at the September 26th Chatham Township Committee meeting underscored just how far from this ideal we remain. The rudeness, sarcasm, and sophistry on display came as no surprise to the many Chatham residents who have endured Curt Ritter's petty social media provocations or Karen Swartz's relentlessly condescending rhetoric. But this ongoing behavior gives me pause over their endorsements for Township Committee.

In a recent Letter to the Editor, the chairman of Chatham Township's Republican Committee denies that a local schism has developed between moderate and far-right Republicans. He does not explain why the Republican Committee mounted a primary campaign against sitting Republican mayor Tayfun Selen, who had been nominated for mayorship and endorsed for re-election by Republican Mike Kelly.  To an observer outside the committee, it sure seems like the town moderates are at loggerheads with a few local ideologues who take their toxic behavioral cues from their favorite politicians in Washington.  The full-throated endorsements coming from Ms. Swartz and Mr. Ritter leave me worried that candidates Mark Hamilton and Rez Estevez will bring more of this same divisive behavior to the Township Committee.  Mr. Hamilton's own recent Letter to the Editor was full of the same outlandish distortions and hyper-partisan rhetoric of which we are all so weary.

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I have had the pleasure of knowing both Stacey Ewald and Celeste Fondaco for many years, and I can personally vouch for their exceptional character and work ethic. I will be supporting them on November 5th because I know how much time and effort they have dedicated to serving the Chathams outside of politics, and because I trust that they will bring that same civility and open-mindedness to their work in municipal government. I look forward to seeing them build upon the example set by Tayfun Selen, Mike Kelly, and Tracy Ness in service of a true collaborative government that represents all Township residents.

Brandon Melvin

Chatham Township