Tuesday night witnessed one of those rare occasions in Davidson - a split vote on something important. One of the last items on the night's marathon agenda was a change to the Town's planning ordinance changing exactly when and how much community involvement was needed for new proposed development.
The vote ended 4-1 with Commissioner Graham casting the lone decenting vote.
The change itself involved a streamlining of the review process for certain types of projects in town. Ironically, being a developer Commissioner Graham had actually been through this rather involved process from the developer's side of the table. His disenting vote would have kept the process as-is. That may seem odd in itself, but the truly odd thing was the reaction his differing opinion engendered.
When the discussion started, Mayor Woods kicked off the topic by making references to "misinformation" and having to answer numerous emails from citizens over the previous few days on the subject. This reference to misinformation appeared to be at least in part a reference to an email Commissioner Graham had distributed last Friday. This email outlined a few of his concerns with the proposed change and simply encouraged people to attend the Board meeting. It also touched on his opinions on the upcoming Town budget.
In my opinion there is absolutely nothing wrong with Commissioner Graham sending that email. In fact it would be truly refreshing for open communication on Town issues if more commissioners did the same on a regular basis. What better way for citizens to know what our commissioners really think? They should not be held to a strict communication protocol where everything is vetted to ensure it stays "on message". They should be allowed to freely express their opinions to their constituents without accusations of misinformation and threat of public criticism from the dias.
What's next? Stocks and pillories on the Green for expressing a disenting opinion?