Politicians often avoid making comments publicly that could alienate those whose vote they ask for each election. The strategy is timeless, putting self-interest and re-election at the fore. Saying nothing in a council chamber, with controversy at hand, speaks volumes about resolve and negligence.
Sheridan City Councilor Kristin Kelly bucked the trend Monday night speaking in favor of a resolution that would recognize the rights of the LGBT community to be protected from discrimination when it concerns employees or job applicants.
Individuals brought forward issues that were not a part of the resolution originally brought before the council.
They spoke about the resolution as if it would create a new law in Sheridan. It would not. A resolution requires just one reading and does not create a new law, only a new policy.
Given the balance of individuals who spoke against such a resolution — citing reasons ranging from religion to fear of special treatment — Kelly took a risk speaking as forcefully as she did.
She likely lost some voters, while gaining others. The value of her candor will be reflected the next time she runs for public service.
After the public commentary Monday night, Kelly shared her own thoughts. She compared the comments to those heard during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. She said while she didn’t originally think such a resolution was needed, given the rhetoric Monday night and that she has received in phone calls and emails, now she does. While other council members may have spoken about the issue in the past or in correspondence with constituents, none spoke to it publicly at that meeting.
Equality – particularly in the Equality State – always merits review. Citizens deserve to know where their elected officials stand – even on the council level. Well done, Kristin Kelly, for having the courage to speak publicly on a controversial issue.