To the Editor:

Last Wednesday’s senseless tragedy in Alexandria, Virginia, has caused me to reflect, not only as mayor of the town I love, but as a friend, a neighbor and a father.

We have reached a dangerous point in our nation’s politics. Constructive communication has been replaced by personal attacks. Fruitful debate has been relegated to inane 140-character insults. This downward spiral has led to heightened hostility, which has led to violence and hatred, threatening the open exchange of ideas.  I know that I am not alone in feeling disheartened by the breakdown of our nation’s political discourse. 

Our community has always been above unyielding partisan divisiveness. This is one of the many qualities that make Westfield such a welcoming community. And now, more than ever, there is a need for tolerance and respect for differences of opinion. Communication is vital and assumptions are destructive. Therefore, let us continue to listen to our friends, family and neighbors and when we disagree, to disagree respectfully.