Dismayed at treatment of our town officials — Elise Seraus

I was in the midst of writing about civility and respect and how we need to get our discourse back on course in Shelburne. Then I got word that John Kerr resigned his seat on the selectboard. It can be read here on the town’s website: shelburnevt.org/documentcenter/view/3061.

I want to thank John for his hard work, dedication to our community, and hours of research and digging in that he did so that he was informed, current and nonpartisan on the complex issues facing our town and our community. He is a role model for civic contributions and humbleness.

I am truly sorry to hear that he is tendering his resignation because of the anger and vileness he has been swamped with from people who disagree with just about anything and everything. They say the internet is the great equalizer and, from where I sit, it is also the great anonymous debaser.

I am truly dismayed to see and hear how our town officials are being treated. There’s a climate of hostility and disrespect in our public meetings. The last selectboard meeting was painfully hard to watch on video, and from what I have heard, exceptionally stressful to witness firsthand.

Public officials are feeling threatened, which is not helpful to getting to any sort of agreement on anything. And now we have lost a good, honest, decent person to the maelstrom of hate.

I was going to conclude my original post with a plea for unity and a suggestion for a path forward. I still wish for these things, but I am shocked and saddened by John’s own words: “Finally, I am gravely concerned about the collateral damage that may come about to my personal and professional reputation. The daily attacks through social media have reached a level that causes me to be constantly concerned….”

I, too, am gravely concerned and have lost a bit of hope.

Elise Seraus

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