Recently, several township residents have reached out to me expressing concern because the Scotch Plains Town Council will hold a discussion about the Christopher Columbus monument located near Town Hall at our next meeting on July 21st. I am writing to explain why it is important to openly discuss the recent Columbus monument removal petition.
At the outset, I want to thank the organizers of the petition for acting lawfully in seeking consideration of the removal of the monument. It would be a terrible thing if the monument was forcibly removed or defaced. I have cringed watching videos of statues and monuments being vandalized or destroyed, and I am grateful that has not happened here. Scotch Plains is a diverse community where we respect one another, property and the law, and that is one of many reasons why I am so proud to call this town my home.
It is also important that residents be aware that I have not signed the petition seeking the removal of the Columbus monument. Frankly, I did not sign the petition because its goals are contrary to my own personal views. My grandmother, Lily, often told me her story about traveling from Southern Italy to New York by ship as a five-year-old. I fully grasp the monument’s significance to many in this town.
What I have done is arranged for a civil discussion about the future of the Columbus monument, based upon the recent removal petition. Every resident with every point of view is invited to participate. A discussion is what it sounds like… an opportunity for people with different points of view to exchange ideas with one another. We close our business meetings with a call for “public comment” because these monthly meetings are the right place for the public to engage its elected representatives on any matter whatsoever.
I have always believed that we are a stronger community, town, state and country when we engage civilly in public discussion with people with different points of view. That is especially true for elected representatives who should consider all points of view before rendering a decision that impacts township residents.
We look forward to hearing from everyone on this topic on the 21st.
Scotch Plains, NJ