I went to be last night feeling sick to my stomach. At last night's Planning Board meeting the lawyer for AcuteCare (the dishonest company from Lakewood who snuck a drug rehab facility into our town a few months back without our knowledge) screamed at our planning board, threatened to sue the town and said there's nothing Oceanport can do about this latest project they want to shove down our throats, an 85-unit affordable housing project inside an abandoned hospital on The Fort.
My husband, thoroughly disgusted, began looking up house listings in Fair Haven.
Not so fast, buddy. I have a life here. I have amazing friends and so do my kids. I lead a cub scout den. I'm in a tennis fivesome with girls from town. I have the best neighbors in the world.
This is my home. And I'm not giving it up without a fight.
I never thought that I would get involved in local politics. As I try to write compelling campaign copy, invite people to meet and greets and find myself terrified at a microphone in front of 350 people completely out of my comfort zone, I shake my head at how I got to the point where I would choose let my free time be consumed working on a political campaign for a write-in mayor and councilman.
But it's either this -- trying to make it better -- or we move elsewhere.
And I really don't want to move.
I guess it boils down to love.
I love my town. I want to keep it great. It's my home.
And you don't stand by and watch when you feel your home is in trouble.
You don't listen and wait.
You don't blindly trust it will all work out.
You defend it.
I don't want to be doing any of this...I have to do it. I'm compelled to do it. I feel I have a responsibility to my town to try to make things better. Blame Greg and Pauline. My parents raised us to do our civic duty, whether it was attending jury duty with a smile or volunteering for the local fire company.
I'm not comfortable with the way the Fort property is being divvied up and FEMRA's presence there. I'm horrified that we now have a drug rehab facility that somehow was issued a Certificate of Occupancy without anyone seeming to know a thing about it. I'm daunted by the notion that the track could close, taking 28% of our town's tax base with it. And over the past several months I've become frustrated. Last night was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.
As my husband Big A says "It's time for a regime change." Both John Coffey and the current mayor are nice guys. Both are smart. Both are passionate about Oceanport. But we can only support one of them for mayor and that's John Coffey. The one we believe is best for the job given the current set of dire circumstances and challenges we face as a town.
I gave this a lot of thought and prayer before I got involved. And I did a lot of research. I urge you to do the same even though you will have to read many pages of minutes from town council and FMERA meetings over the past year. Don't do it without several cups of Rook coffee by your side.
I'm supporting Cullin Wible for write-in candidate for councilman because he's the smartest guy in any room and he's not afraid to respectfully debate anyone. Cullin has a wife, two very young children and a job as a CFO of a huge company and yet in his free time he's been attending every town, Board of Ed, Planning or FMERA meeting and knocking on doors to win the respect and votes of fellow citizens. He asks insightful questions and does the work. I've noticed the current town council has already taken his advice on a number of items, from his suggestion they bring in a map of The Fort to making the town council meetings accessible to everyone. It's clear Cullin knows how to lead. He's already leading. If elected, there's no telling how much he'll benefit Oceanport.
I have no idea who's going to win this race. It's anyone's game and that's why every vote counts. So much hangs in the balance of the outcome of this election.
And yet no matter who is the victor, we're all going to still live in the same town the next day.
So I try to be careful and responsible with my words. I wish everyone could adopt this practice. It's politics -- don't make it so personal. The former friend you now won't speak to could very well be working the bake sale with you at the PTO Fall festival. The man you defriend on Facebook may be the EMT called to your house when your elderly mother takes a fall. And how awkward would that be?
You want to destroy the fabric of our town over what? A local election? Because someone isn't voting for your guy?
In Oceanport, we're better than that, aren't we? Aren't we?
I can say I love vanilla without insisting that chocolate is wrong and hope that it dies a slow and painful death. (Perish the thought!) I've always been comfortable in the grey area. Not everyone is.
Some people need someone else to be wrong for them to be right.
I'm trying not to be that person. Please -- don't you be that person either. You won't like yourself in the morning.
But remember how high the stakes are.
Don't be the person who decided to stay out of it and then complain about the outcome as you sat by and watched and let others do the work and take the risk.
Stand for something or you'll stand for nothing.
Stand for something or you'll fall for everything.
Take a stand in a way that feels right for you...a way that allows you to rest your head on pillow at night and say "At least I gave it my all."
Defend your home.
And get involved, ask questions, talk to your neighbors and attend meet-and-greets.
And please cast your vote on Election Day and save Oceanport from ruin.