Melissa Wynne.

From Alderman Melissa Wynne:

I’ve always cherished Evanstonians’ passionate engagement. We’re smart, thoughtful, and fair-minded. We care deeply about every square inch of our city. When we disagree, we debate vigorously, but with civility and the strong bonds of mutual respect that allow our disagreements to be aired with constructive engagement that leads us to better solutions and a healthier public culture.

Over the past few months, however, I’ve been increasingly concerned about a new level of vitriol and mutual demonization that has been injected into the public discourse. During the course of this campaign season, I have observed and personally experienced rage-filled attacks – frequently anonymous – that are like nothing I’ve seen in more than three decades of living here in Evanston. This new strain of invective is seriously destructive of the social connectedness that empowers us to work together and thrive as a vibrant, active democracy.

It is for this reason that I was so very concerned about the recent mailings from Evanston Together LLC. Let me be perfectly clear: I did not seek their endorsement nor request their mailings. They were sent without my permission or agreement. These mailings are un-Evanston-like and I am deeply saddened by their effect on our community. We are ALL damaged by this.

Democracy is fragile. Maintaining it requires hard, careful, constant work. We all have a duty and responsibility to ensure its viability. Making it a war zone drives thoughtful, caring citizens out of the process, leaving only polarized camps. That’s a recipe for disaster.

But we can do better. We can re-double our efforts to listen to and respect one another, to engage with civility, and recognize that our common goal is a better Evanston. Let’s take a step back, and see each other as fellow citizens who love this community deeply, despite its flaws, and share an abiding commitment to building a city that will thrive and flourish.

Paid for by Melissa Wynne for Evanston

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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