To the Editor of Tap Into Springfield
I feel compelled in the view of the current campaign for the Township Committee and the positions taken by Mr. Jerry Fernandez at the Candidates’ Forum last week to offer a few comments from both my experience as a former member of the Township Committee who served with him, as a former candidate and as a resident and voter as well.
Mr. Fernandez has often embraced “open and transparent” government, yet it has been his habit to choose to limit the public’s ability to understand issues of public interest by not holding the open and informal workshop meetings at which township officials, members of the Committee and residents can actually question, clarify and discuss any issue in favor of restricted and formal brief reports made at TC meetings. This severely limits the public’s opportunity to have a full understanding of issues or projects, etc., or to engage in any productive way.
The frequent pursuit of a change in the form of government (in which there is, to put it mildly, very little public interest) has been couched as nothing more than the ability to directly elect a mayor, which is gross oversimplification to the point of being misleading. His desire for nonpartisan elections is also puzzling in light of Mr. Fernandez not only being the chair of the Republican party but a rather fierce enforcer of the “party line” over any independent thinking on the part of elected Republicans. His public treatment of the former mayor in a letter to the TAP when she dared to vote according to her conscience last year was disgraceful and anything but nonpartisan.
Mr. Fernandez has engaged in extremely partisan and negative campaigning many times, including misleading and untruthful claims about political opponents, threats, and behavior which might be deemed harassment. He routinely eliminates comments he does not care for and blocks people on Facebook and on occasion his responses have been out of control (and in fact have been removed or shut down). This is not the behavior of someone who claims to value open and transparent government and non-partisanship. He has posted thoughts that have made members of the community uncomfortable and both he and Ms. Vassallo seem to be unaware that there are issues regarding diversity in our community and perhaps are not willing to offer the leadership needed to heal any potential rifts. For anyone who may object that these comments are s not positive, the truth should always be a positive value and a required element in political discourse.
It may be time for new ideas and true openness to the thoughts of others, acceptance of differences of experience and opinion which can be worked through for the benefit of all of Springfield, with its unique blend of old residents and new. That is our true strength - “E pluribus unum” - from the many, one.