To the Editor:
Voters and town officials at Mount Desert’s town meeting made us proud on many counts, and we’d like to express thanks. It was a well-attended, well-moderated meeting, representing local democracy at its best.
From 6-11:30 p.m., budgets were vetted and supported. Committees and boards made recommendations. Major, forward-thinking investments in infrastructure were approved. Civic leaders and town elders Becky and Buddy Brown were honored. Humor and wit were exchanged.
Discussion was respectful, honest and civil. People spoke as much from the heart as from the head. Turnout was high including for elections the day before. Neighborhood House served up a notably healthy, delicious dinner, and eighth graders sold treats to benefit their class trip, all of which may have helped with voter mood.
Two citizen petitions about the character and identity of our town were overwhelmingly approved. Mount Desert became the first community in Maine to recognize itself at town meeting as a sanctuary community. The vote was 101-59. This was article No. 74 of 75, and many stayed on to be part of this vote.
Designating our town a sanctuary community is a very positive statement. In an uncertain world, it says we’re a welcoming place, no matter the color of your skin, religion, race, sexuality or country of origin. It says we respect everyone’s constitutional rights and there’s no tolerance for discrimination. In tense times, it affirms that our vitally important police department works first and foremost for the people who live here. Thank you, officers, for being there for everyone, 24-7.
We hope Bar Harbor voters also will turn out strongly and support the sanctuary community Warrant Article 1 at the June 6 town meeting. Imagine the ripple of kindness two world-class communities might send out to the millions of visitors and seasonal residents who cross that bridge every year or arrive by boat from across the globe.
Let’s explore how sanctuary communities can support our diverse economy, our brand and community fabric, all of which are tied together. We’re very grateful we can have this conversation safely and respectfully.