Civility

This week five candidates seeking two seats as the Washington-7 representatives to the Vermont Legislature spent two hours answering questions about their positions, philosophy and politics at a candidate forum in Waitsfield.

The contrast between these people seeking office and some of the political races at the national levels couldn’t be more pronounced.

Not a single one of them made a disparaging remark about any of their fellow candidates. They were respectful and civil, focused on sharing their points of view with those present. The five candidates were well-prepared and had done their homework.

And the same thing can be said about the dozens of community members who filled the room at the Big Picture Theater where the event was held. The questions that were asked were insightful and relevant. There were no “gotcha” questions and no attempt to bully or intimidate.

Perhaps the civility of the evening can be attributed to the fact that we all live in this small community of five towns. One good thing about living in a small community is that you can’t come out with guns blazing at a forum when you live in the same small valley as your fellow candidates.

Or perhaps that civility came from the candidates themselves and the fact that they respect each other as members of this community and because they’ve coached kids’ sports together or manned the registration booth at the Mad Dash together.

It’s pretty difficult to sustain a feud or nurse a grudge when you’ll never really be able to avoid the other person. That’s a good thing for those of us who live in the Washington-7 legislative district.

We’re lucky to have five committed candidates who want to represent our interests at the State House in Montpelier. At the forum this week, they were clear in articulating their differences and they were able to recognize areas where their beliefs overlapped. When they disagreed, they did so respectfully and without rancor or name calling.

It’s clear that they all care, not just about our five towns but also the state.