Tiffany Carey Speech to Ixonia Board
I am here to talk about why I think that there was such a competitive election season this year and what we might learn from it. My husband did not have political aspirations before this year, and I’v personally never had to wage a political fight in my life. You might think that it was all just about LNG, but that is not it. We all have all been engaged on principle.
I know that there were people that were angry about the LNG who were being mean, but that was not me nor any of the people who have been a part of our group, we specifically discouraged speaking poorly of anyone. I am honestly sorry that people were being aggressive or speaking ill of you. My intention in all of my interactions has been to engage with respect, to voice my opinion with my elected officials, the backbone of political representation.
Yet, my experience with this institution has been generally opposite to that. I have been in this building a handful of times since living in Ixonia, and nearly every time I have engaged with a local employee, the interaction was difficult (this is not the same with all the political volunteers who have been nothing but warm and helpful.) I felt like I was being lumped into a group of people who were the bad guys, even though we have never met. It feels demoralizing to walk into a building where people make fun of, belittle, or dismiss your concerns.
Now I know that we all want the same thing.. we all want Ixonia to be a good place for us to live in. We all care about our property and our friends, and our neighborhoods and the feel of our town. Even if our ideas about what is good development are different. if we show up for that process, it’s because we care. But I also understand that it can feel like all anyone has is complaints, and that running a town is legitimately difficult. I also get that. You all are working hard for your version of development and I respect that.
What I have difficulty respecting or honoring is the numerous unprofessional behaviors I have seen on behalf of the town by people who represent it. I have seen town of Ixonia employees pointing and laughing at members of the public during meetings, I have heard town of Ixonia board members calling constituents names and laughing at them while representing the town. I have seen one of the kindest and most genuinely caring person who I know, leave a town of Ixonia meeting crying because of how she was spoken to by a town employee. These incidents all happened in the last 6 months and are only a few of many such incidents. This is all behavior that is unprofessional, and witnessing these behaviors and more was what made my husband run.
I am not alone. In going campaigning door to door, I have heard story after story of people feeling like they were poorly treated after visiting our town hall or board meetings. Making them disinterred and disempowered about the decisions that impact their lives. In my opinion, people who are being civil should be treated with dignity and respect, not as a nuisance.
The people of Ixonia deserve transparency. This means that when there are big important projects that would impact a persons life, a project that they may care about, Ixonia should be making sure that they receive an unbiased mailer telling them why it is happening and how their opinion can be heard. People deserve more than a yearly update, but actual real meaningful engagement. I am literally a neighboring property to the LNG project and I did not receive ANY notification until I started creating a fuss about it. People should be brought into the process, and you should care about what they have to say, even if you don’t agree, or have to vote against them. When people feel heard, even if they don’t get their way, it matters to them.
Transparency means that like every other municipality in this county, Ixonia should have an open comment period to voice their opinions. Open comment sessions allow engagement with the political process which translate into people feeling engaged and then supportive of their government. Transparency means that our covid money should be spent to making our meetings accessible with technology so people can attend from home. I hope that you will do this, and I am willing to donate my time to help you get set up if you need support in this.
The guys also ran on honesty and integrity. To me honesty looks like not looking someone in the eyes and promising that you are going to vote against a project and then breaking that agreement. To me it looks like not sending a letter that dismisses the voices of Ixonia residents calling them passionate outsiders or simply curious onlookers. We all know that most of the people who showed up at the town hall were Ixonia residents who cared about the project.
Honesty means sharing the real details about the new septic system, even though you know that people won't like it, and engaging them in the process. Doubling peoples bill will have a real impact on some families of Ixonia, especially the elderly, and single parents, and I hope that you are engaging those people so that they can start budgeting for what could be a real hardship to their families and coming up with ways to soften the blow to people who may not be able to spare an extra $600/year.
Transparency Honesty and integrity
does not mean that you are expected to agree, or do what we want. It does mean that you actively seek to hear, listen, and engage with the real concerns of ALL of the people of this town, not just your friends, not just your allies. It means that you don’t dismiss the people in the subdivisions as just people who are new or don’t vote. It means that you make your meetings interactive and accessible, treat people with dignity and respect, listen to us and respond to our emails, and genuinely consider what we want, even when it is different than your point of view. WE all pay taxes here, and we all deserve to be heard. And, genuinely if we feel heard and cared about, even if our opinions differ, we can keep working towards the same goal together. The goal of a better Ixonia.