Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Many have moved Vergennes forward, including its mayor

It resonated with me when reading Rebecca Rey’s Sept. 3 letter to the editor concerning the many “key people, at key moments who stepped up to help us move forward,” referring to Gerianne Smart. She could have been talking about many of the community members, like Gerianne, “that were the true catalysts of change in Vergennes.” Gerianne certainly was a big part of all of the change that has transpired over the years and has dedicated herself to making Vergennes the vibrant community that it is today. It is the same community that attracted many people to move here and enjoy what Vergennes had become. Change is good and I’m not sure why Ms. Rey feels that “resistance to change has a stronghold on our little city” 
You state that the people in power were resistant to the Citizens Review Board. That is not accurate. The resistance came when Mayor Fritz without authorization from the City Council, hand-picked a board of his choosing. The City Council did in fact vote to support the CRB unanimously after the fact, despite having no input in selection of board members, which they should have had.
You are very upset about a comment during the zoom meeting that stated, “why are they still letting him speak?” You must admit that Mayor Fritz himself had asked that comments be kept to four minutes or less and the individual who was speaking had spoken three different times during that call for over 20 minutes. I think that was a reasonable comment that has been blown way out of proportion.
Nobody seems concerned with the comments directed to Deputy Mayor Donnelly, “I’m going to take her to the woodshed” or “there’s a storm brewing honey” or the Mayor’s comments about the police department or the Mayor’s secret meetings with the Addison County Sheriff who had a bone to pick with our police chief. No, it seems that those writing in the media are more upset that the Mayor was called out on his bad behavior and that he was embarrassed in public. We don’t treat each other that way here and he was called out on his behavior. I will remind you that the council felt that way when they witnessed what had happened and voted 5 to 1 to have the Mayor resign.
I don’t believe anybody has given full credit to our police department for turning our city around as you stated, but I believe that the safety that we enjoy today within the borders of our little community is often taken for granted and is a contributing factor of the vibrancy of Vergennes.
Let me tell you about the efforts of one of the citizens that contributed along with Gerianne and many others. That individual is Acting Mayor Lynn Donnelly. She served on the Opera house board for many years, served as co-chair of the Library Gala, was a founding member of Sweet Charity, has been a Rotarian for over 35 years providing money and support for the Boys and Girls Club, High School Scholarships and the Food Shelf. She served on the school board for 12 years and coordinated from her office and drove for the meals on Wheels program for over 10 years. She was an active member of the Vergennes Chamber of Commerce, which turned into the Vergennes Partnership, and has served as the Chair of the Capital Campaign at St. Peter’s, played Mrs. Santa for the Children during the Vergennes stroll and currently serves on the Vergennes Board of Alderman. 
She continues to serve even in these tough times when many others quit. She too could have taken the easy way out and resigned, but because she cares so much about this city and its future, she has hung in there taking an incredible amount of undeserved abuse. We are thankful for the many community members that have come forth with support. Full disclosure I am her husband and am proud of her commitment helping make Vergennes the best that it can be.
Neither she nor I are finding any satisfaction in this division that has occurred in our little City. We are all in this together and we all want what is best for our community. No one is “in power.” I say to you, let’s be sure we know all of the facts and think about how what we are putting in print will help make things better. Let’s stop the pettiness and bickering and let’s work together to make Vergennes the best that it can be. Like a nice home, Vergennes has been under construction for a long time and continues with renovations that make it an even better place. Thank you.
Michael Donnelly
Vergennes

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