Monday, July 15, 2024

Opinion: Town Council

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With over 7 years of previous service on the Town Council, my commitment to District 3 constituents remains strong. Recent changes, however, have shifted the landscape. While my long-standing connections were once valuable for collaboration across party lines, the current political climate has altered perceptions among my Democratic colleagues and Party leadership.

Unfortunately, qualities like casual conversations and jokes across party lines are now seen as disloyal, contributing to a prevailing mistrust that hinders effective collaboration. It’s disheartening that public interactions are sometimes misunderstood as deal-making rather than discussions about common interests like community service, family, or shared experiences.

I have lived in Stratford since I was 3 year old – I went to Birdseye School, Johnson Junior High School then Stratford High School. I played football, baseball, and was a Camp Counselor at Johnson and Sterling House.

I went to school with and made friends with many of the people who are still my friends, having played football and baseball either on the same teams or played against each other. I went to many of their houses and had dinner with their families. Now that we are grown, they happen to be a Republican and I happen to be a Democrat. However we are friends from our youth.

Stratford is a small town. If you are raised in Stratford, you remain friends with those who you grew up with. If you are not a Stratford native, you apparently don’t understand lasting friendships, and find having breakfast or socializing with long time friends as political treachery.

Before the first council meeting, my Democratic colleagues and Party leadership made it clear, through both their actions and words, that I was not welcome within their ranks, and I could not assume their support. Attempts to meet to work through their concerns privately were dismissed, and after the council meeting, I was told to “shut up” after several unsuccessful attempts to engage in dialogue.

Furthermore, my district’s representation has drastically reduced to only 4 individuals, all of whom are people of color. This contrasts sharply with the 10-13 representatives just four years ago. The concern is underscored by the mistreatment of three of the last four elected 3rd District council members under the latest Democratic leadership.

Although there are challenges, I remain committed to serving District 3 and advocating for its needs. My dedication is to find ways to navigate these obstacles while contributing to a more inclusive and collaborative political environment that prioritizes the community’s well-being. I believe in prioritizing the needs of the community, placing their needs above political affiliations and establishing a positive tone for the potential accomplishments of this council.

Alvin O’Neal (D)
Stratford Town Council Chairman ProTempore
District 3

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