Stallings Councilman Fred Weber made a request at this week’s town meeting that “all public emails and comments to the media, unless authorized by a majority of the council, clearly state that it is an individual council member’s personal opinion.” This is something that has been attempted in the past in Stallings. It also is not a surprise that it has surfaced once again with a newly elected council majority.
While Mr. Weber may wish or desire such disclaimers, I personally believe citizens of Stallings deserve to hear from their elected officials. I also believe we are smart enough to recognize “personal opinion.”
Citizens can easily access the town website full of recordings and written meeting minutes for information. Councilmen Frost, Dunn and Mayor Paxton choose to personally provide ample feedback to the public. They are the only ones on council that I am aware of who routinely welcome accountability and feedback by emailing newsletters and writing editorials to the paper reflecting their views on the issues. Their newsletters and letters have never purported to be from the council as a whole.
For example, in Frost’s recent newsletter, he used the words I, I’m, I’ve, me, our family or me 27 times. He also signed his newsletter with his name and his personal telephone number. A recent letter to the editor by Mayor Paxton used the words I’d, me, my and I and the very first sentence began with the phrase “I’d like to make a brief response.” Clearly, their statements reflected their own viewpoints.
If the personal statements and opinions from other elected officials bother some council members, perhaps they should use their time to send out their own newsletters to inform citizens of their own viewpoints and welcome the same accountability some on council already do. That would be a far better use of their time then attempting to silence others or trying to mandate disclaimers on free speech.
Jill E. Reed