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Letter: Let’s return to creating community prosperity

After reading Rep. Bennett’s Capitol Comments column on Sunday, March 14, titled “Women have come a long way throughout the state and the nation,” I was both confused and uncomfortable. I expected a column on the accomplishments of American women, but instead most of the article was discriminatory remarks against the transgender population. Her words left me feeling uneasy to see our state representative use her position of authority to single out a minority group that has experienced an increasing trend of hate crimes.

Our First Amendment right of free speech is perhaps the most important tool of American democracy. It provides ordinary citizens the opportunity to provide constructive feedback to elected officials. This is very healthy for democracy. At the same time, words are very powerful and can have unsafe impacts if they generalize an entire population within our nation in a negative way. These impacts can be even more dangerous when elected leaders express them.

I write today to encourage Rep. Bennett to use her position of power to unite us as a community and inform us on proposed policies that can benefit our community. Pitting one group of people against another does not promote a mindset of community prosperity for all. Please provide a nonpartisan overview of proposed legislation that helps our area improve. Framing legislation in terms of partisan language or social wedge issue narratives only creates more hostility and division.

I encourage Rep. Bennett to focus on the unique rural needs of House District 27A. Please support rural broadband internet access to provide remote learning for students and access to telemedicine services for patients. Please help solve the rural childcare shortage to keep our children safe and support working families. Please promote policy that increases market rate housing in our community so working families have stable and safe home ownership within which to raise their children.

Finally I want to thank Rep. Bennett for her service. I hope she can accept feedback in the interest of making our community better. I have noticed that her Capitol Comments columns seem to have become more focused on abstract national level policy issues. I would prefer to see her focus on local issues that promote our community’s ability to grow and thrive.

Terry Gjersvik

Alden