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Decision not to run was agonizing; I hope I served you well: Anne Einhorn

By Anne Einhorn
Posted 3/7/17

In March 2012, I made the decision to run for borough council. It was not an easy or quick decision; it was in fact a long and complicated process. I weighed the pros and cons, invited opinions and …

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Decision not to run was agonizing; I hope I served you well: Anne Einhorn

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In March 2012, I made the decision to run for borough council. It was not an easy or quick decision; it was in fact a long and complicated process. I weighed the pros and cons, invited opinions and suggestions, discussed it at length with my family. In choosing to run I took on an enormous responsibility to this town, to my family, and to myself.
In January 2017, I made the decision not to run again, and I made it in much the same way using the same process. In both cases, once the decision was made, I agonized and second-guessed myself and experienced a myriad of emotions but in the end, I do believe that both decisions were the right ones.
I ran, as most people do, to affect change and make a difference. Specifically for me, I wanted to give the people their collective voice back. At that time, the sitting council was not responsive to the community and neither was their administration. Council made decisions without the input of the citizens, shut them down when they spoke out, and on occasion used their position as a bully pulpit to force their agenda at the cost of truth, trust and transparency.
This attitude permeated the administrative branch as well as management staff who shut down the public by turning a deaf ear to phone calls, requests for information, demands to be heard. I wanted to change all that and I do believe that those of us who came into office in 2013 did just that.
As the minority we lost more votes than we won but we made a lot of noise, calling attention to the majority’s lack of interest in the demands of the people and empowering the people to take action to effect change. I think our greatest success during those the two years was in giving the people back their voice, by listening, speaking out, and urging them to take action. I believed then as I believe now that we are representatives of the people but the true power should and does rest with them, not with us. I am proud of what we accomplished at that time even as we lost many battles because in the end we won that war as was proven in the 2015 election when the incumbents were soundly voted out of office.
Over the last two years, hard work has been done to build confidence in the public, put in place a management team that is both knowledgeable about our community and determined to work with the people to restore our town, and listen, listen, listen to what you say.
I am not running this year because the nature of politics and democracy has changed from the top down. In this country, in this state and in this, our community. Civility is dead. Nasty personal attacks, fear tactics, and petty personal slights are now the new order, and I can’t and won’t play that game. I’m not good at it and I won’t win it.
I have always believed that as public and elected officials we are and should be held to a high standard of behavior. That standard once included respect for each other, respect for our constituents, and respect for the process whether or not we like or disagree with each other and those we represent.
When I signed on to this role, I recognized that anything I did and said was fair game for criticism and disagreement, subject to argument and debate. I understood that I might be attacked, personally and professionally, that I would be subject to the vagaries of Facebook. I accepted that as part of the job and I chose to stay above the fray and continue to do what I believed to be right and to work with those with whom I disagreed and disliked because that is also the nature of the job.
I didn’t always succeed but I tried and continue to try as I will to the very last day of my term. I have been hurt by some of the criticism, I have been sucked into the whorl and gotten caught in the Facebook world of defending, denying and decrying others. I have been angry and frustrated, and passionate.
I have done my best to work for what is best for our town and its people. I have succeeded and I have failed but I am proud of the work I have done. I have striven for balance and perspective and I have done my best to refrain from public posturing and petty bickering with my colleagues and my constituents. Unfortunately we are now in a place where all of those things are the order of the day, where personal affronts and random attacks are the norm, a place where words and thoughts and comments are landmines for ugliness and vindictiveness.
It is more important to be right than to be fair; it is more rewarding to be praised than to work quietly and seriously for the common good; it is far more fun to win than to lose no matter the collateral damage.
I believe that my colleagues and I have done good work and I have mostly enjoyed those occasions where we did work together for the common good, where we came together and created a sense of spirit and community no matter our differences. Lately, though, I feel that this is a rare occurrence that is quickly declining and giving way to more and more anger, infighting and personal attacks. I no longer believe that I can be effective in that environment.
I respect my colleagues and wish them the best. I trust that the people of Middletown will not lose their way again. I trust that they will recognize dangerous speech for what it is, a way to control through manipulation and fear. I trust that the community will continue to make its voice heard even when they lose battles. I trust they will continue to fight to make Middletown the best it can be.
I will be working along with you. I will continue to work for this community and for everyone who lives here, I’ll just be on the other side of the rail, making my voice heard and my actions known.
It has been my privilege to serve this town, and I hope I have done it well.

Anne Einhorn is a member of the Middletown Borough Council.

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