To the editor,
I have been a Prospect resident since 1970. I was absent from town during my college years, but I chose to return when I started my family because I wanted to bring them up in the town that provided me a happy childhood.
Prospect is still a great place to live, and indeed, I can honestly say that my children will likely reflect on their youth when they are older and think the same thing. But like every town, we face issues here in Prospect. It’s not that Mayor Bob isn’t likable or that he isn’t dedicated or that he hasn’t loyally served this town for 40 years. I first met Bob when I was a kindergartner. He was a manager for the school bus company. And when I fell asleep on the bus and missed my stop, he was the man who gently persuaded me to get off the bus with a stick of Wrigley gum, and brought me home to my frantic but grateful parents.
If you’ve ever had a crisis in town, you know Mayor Bob is the first one that shows up at your door. He is dedicated, and I am grateful for all he has given to Prospect.
I am not writing to criticize Bob Chatfield, but rather to make the residents aware of what I see as issues that arise when you have one man, one political party in control for four decades. It’s called complacency, and overall, while not an awful condition, it has its side effects, and they exist here in Prospect.
So what are the side effects of having one person and one party at the helm since 1977?
For one, our bookkeeping system is outdated. It is very difficult to obtain information that should be readily accessible at the push of a computer button, and sometimes, mistakes are made. As a member of the Town Council and its Public Works Subcommittee, I requested information in January 2017 about expenditures made for public works truck repair labor and parts, and at the time of writing this letter, I still do not have that information.
Number two, when one party is in control of nearly all decisions for 40 years, it is nearly impossible to get a fair hearing for an alternative or second opinion. It is frustrating to be a member of the minority party because often your opinion is overruled, unless you have a lot of stamina like me, and keep at it until you make headway. Like the idea of sidewalks in Prospect. Many in town, including Mayor Bob, were not in favor. But with a lot of talking, presentations and research, I’m thrilled to say we are making progress toward installing sidewalks on Route 69.
Number three, an anti-change mentality develops, which can be costly. Have you ever wondered why we do things certain ways in town, especially when you believe there is a better way? I have, and when I ask, the response is “because we have done it that way for 40 years.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a nostalgic and sentimental girl at heart, but I must admit, I thank golly for change. Without change, I’d still be handwashing dishes, using an Encyclopedia Britannica to do my research and walking over to the TV to adjust the antenna and turn the channels.
In my opinion, repeated resistance and refusals to change and bring this town up to date have cost Prospect taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. We can do better. We must do better.
Now is the time for residents to consider their options and think about the possibility for a more balanced government in town, where one party does not have unfettered control, but where two parties work together to embrace change and guide Prospect into the 21st century. This year, think about the qualified and dedicated Democrats who are running for positions, and remember, a vote for them ensures a system of checks and balances, where you can be assured that the right thing is being done, and not just the thing that is done “because we’ve always done it that way for 40 years.”
The writer is a Democratic member of the Prospect Town Council and a candidate for the council in the November election.