Disclaimer: This is a commentary. I trust as a reader you should be able to tell, in this post I am bias. But this is my commentary & cartoon, not necessarily an opinion supported by the rest of the bloggers of the Eye.
Today I realized the irony of doing a political cartoon in response Ed McKeon’s blog commentary regarding the underlying fear some citizens might have signing petitions in regards to retribution, which I understand are now on a public record, which were publicized & therefore polarized by the Democratic Town Committee’s recent press release, and then in not signing my name for the fear of the same type of retribution and public ridicule.
I agree with Ed McKeon’s take on the situation 100%. I like Ed, I consider him a friend. Ed is a Democratic candidate for Board of Education, and I am candidate for Planning & Zoning Commission being endorsed by the Middletown Republican Town Committee & The Realistic Balance Party. My mom Linda is running as a Republican for Common Council. I was registered Independent up until 4 months ago, when I decided to run, and chose to join MRTC. I am a social liberal, and a fiscal conservative, and have the education, background, and potential to be a great P&Z Commissioner. All other details about me you can Google on your own or read in my bio.
I chose to join MRTC and endorse its candidates because I like them; I like Mayor Giuliano, I like the other candidates and what they have to say. I 100% support them. Most days, I like my mom too, and what she has to say isn’t all that bad either. She and I do share the same opinions on many issues, but the cord was cut 27 years ago, and we have been two separate individuals with separate viewpoints since. I like the local Republicans more than the local Democrats, and I want to see them all elected. In the future we may disagree & have different opinions, but what I like most about the MRTC candidates is that they listen to others & explain themselves. Should I disagree with them in the future, I know they will afford me time to share my views, and I hear theirs.
I did not ask MRTC or the mayor to do cartoons for the Eye, or vice versus. The cartoons are 100% mine and mine alone. No proofing, no editing. I would not be a part of any political group where I would have to ask permission to be myself and voice my thoughts.
I’ve written tidbits here and there since the inception of the Eye. I wrote for many years under an alias because my mother works for the City and she and I feared retaliation at our jobs & in our personal lives for me voicing an opinion about anything for that matter so publically. We both have experienced retribution. I used an alias to publish all the past cartoons by “The Pencil” as well, for this same fear. Retaliation. Ridicule. My opinions being questioned. Mean comments.
I have 6 years of architectural schooling behind me. In architecture school we are taught that design decisions you make impact real lives. A fundamental principle of good design is that “form follows function.” There is more to this term, ( having to do with superfluous design elements), but one basic crude interpretation is that whatever design decisions you make you better have a reason to back it up. This is to prepare for the real world where you will be presenting to town building committees, fickle clients, and dealing with construction workers who will question every move you make. We are trained to take immense amount of criticism, and endure rigorous self-objectivity. I can honestly say all the writing & cartooning I have done on the Eye I have had a reason for and felt good about it. At the time I wrote or drew whatever I did, I made the best decision I could make, and each instance was done deliberately and I can stand behind it. I make no apologies, I meant not to deceive, but I honestly I felt anonymity added to the thought provoking discussion I was hoping to inspire.
Have I had regrets? I regret my written stance on “Food Not Bombs,” three years later, I understand things better today and see how this is a positive movement, I wrote against this group. I didn’t realize this until I asked the right people the right questions, and made an effort to shut-up, listen to facts, and educate myself before taking a stance.
And now when I take a stance, I remember what I was taught- “form follows function” and I always make sure I have a reasoning behind my decisions & opinions. I ask myself what exactly am I afraid of from now on signing my cartoons? I realize I will encounter the ridicule I fear. I understand that I may offend people, and in turn they will criticize me and offend me. Perhaps down the line these cartoons etched in digital history or running for a political office will cost me career opportunities or friends, I just don’t know.
As a candidate, a cartoonist, a blogger, a citizen, everything I am, I have to be myself. My opinion is just as good as anyone else’s. The cartoons are meant to get Middletown residents thinking and to formulate opinions. They are meant to be a self-critical look at ourselves. The criticism & ridicule will always be there, but blows to my ego and hurt feelings are minuscule sacrifices in comparison to living a life of non-action because of fear. I have seen this apathetic attitude for years in Middletown, displayed by both certain elected officials and citizens alike. Unless people speak up, we will all be stuck in place forever, and Middletown cannot grow.
I can promise as a candidate, if elected, I will educate myself with the relevant information of the issue at hand, I will shut-up and listen to people around me who might know more than me on a particular subject. If my opinions change on a certain issue, the public can rest assured it is not because of weakness, but because it is what turns out to be the right thing to do. I will exercise the best judgment my education has afforded me. I will ask the so-called “stupid” questions others are afraid to ask, and make sure everyone in the room with me, or for that matter the City- understands the implications of our decisions on the generations that will inherit Middletown. I will also respect the interests of the generations whom came before me. I am young, I have a lot to learn no doubt, but my learning will not be at the expense of Middletown’s best interest. I will own my opinions, decisions, and make the best decisions I can. No one is harder on me than myself, because that’s what I was to taught to do. If I do not have enough information to do so, I will not be lazy, subservient, or acquiesce to political pressures, I will get off my ass and get answers because that is what I was trained to do. That being said, I am ready to stand up for Middletown’s needs. I won’t be a bystander in the political arena, I will open my mouth and not shut-up for fear of ridicule, criticism, and retribution; hopefully, in doing so lead by example.