A group of Wilton residents has proposed that Wilton take an official stance on something they say reflects the town’s basic decency:  they’ve asked the Board of Selectmen to adopt a proclamation reaffirming that Wilton is a town committed to inclusion, tolerance and civility.

At Monday evening’s (Feb. 6) BoS meeting, resident Heather Wilcauskas presented the selectmen with a draft of a three paragraph proclamation that she had written with another Wiltonian, Pamela Hovland, and the input of several others citizens. Wilcauskas said that the impetus for the statement was seeing the impact that national political discord was having, even in a place like Wilton–highlighting the “respect Wiltonians have for one another and the courtesy and inclusiveness we live by.”

“Wilton is a place where all opinions are welcome, and, all points of view appreciated, respectfully shared and responded to in kind. Of late, Pamela and I have felt—among those we agree with, those we disagree with, even within ourselves—a temptation to let passion overtake civility. We have all seen this trend nationally as well.”

She noted that idea was a grassroots effort, brainstormed by individuals, but that it had now gained the endorsement of several civic organization in town, including the Wilton Interfaith Action Committee (Wi-ACT), Wilton League of Women Voters, the Wilton Democratic Town Committee, and A Better Chance of Wilton (ABC).

Later in the meeting, Wi-ACT chair Stephen Hudspeth also urged the BoS to adopt the proclamation.

“What that proclamation says is the heart of who we are as a community. I think it is very important that we affirm that and take leadership consistent with what we all believe, what each of you believe. It’s important as a town to say that.”

While the proposal has been in the works for several week, the presentation to the board came only hours after news broke about the discovery in town of flyers with a racist, white supremacist message. Selectman Dick Dubow referenced that in the discussion that followed later in the meeting.

“I commend the group, they captured the spirit of the town. I’m convinced it would have broad based support. I would like to see the BoS endorse it. Given recent events, the news we heard today was very disturbing. I know in the past, whenever in the past there’s a clear, declaration on the part of the town, we’ve managed to put an end to this sort of thing. This is an opportunity for us to step up and do that,” he said, asking first selectman Lynne Vanderslice to put the decision onto the next meeting’s agenda.

While Wilcauskas said that she would incorporate the minor changes suggested by the selectmen, the final form will likely read very closely to what was presented Monday evening:

We, the selectmen of Wilton, Connecticut, do hereby reaffirm our Town’s commitment to inclusion, tolerance and civility, especially at this time of increasingly divisive political discourse. We recognize the diversity of our citizens and visitors, whatever their gender, religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, citizenship, political views, or social or economic status.

We resolve to respect and ensure the rights of all our citizens and visitors to participate fully in our community, and for all our citizens to participate fully in its governance. Our commitment to inclusion informs our values and is the basis on which our Town will thrive. Diversity enriches us.

We further resolve that the principles of inclusion, tolerance, and civility will guide the actions we take as Selectmen. We resolve to reject policies that threaten or diminish this commitment, or that target or marginalize specific groups. We believe that everyone deserves consideration, compassion and respect.

This is what makes Wilton strong. This is who we are.

The selectmen will consider it at their next meeting on Monday, Feb. 27.

GOOD Morning Wilton has received letters of support for the proclamation, which we are also publishing today. Editor’s note:  the current working version has been updated and changed, including adding the word ‘disability’ in the list of diversity of citizens in the first paragraph. To see this current version, check the letters of support we have published today

2 replies on “Residents Urge BoS to Adopt Tolerance Proclamation”

  1. I do have a concern with the Proclamation on Civility. While I truly believe in civil discourse, I also believe strongly in the following quote from Benjamin Franklin “Well done is better than well said”.

    In the past I have experienced individuals calling for civility, while launching vitriolic attacks, in the press or at meetings, on others because they disagreed with them. All citizens have a right to express their opinions without being demonized. This is what we should strive for with or without a proclamation.

  2. Alex, I hear you. I wonder, what is wrong with both “well done and well said”? Any such proclamation is by nature aspirational – but to me, aspiring for more civility and keeping the focus on issues vs. “vitriolic attacks” seems a noble goal. One we, as a community, should embrace. Thus, I support the proclamation.

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