Transparency for change, Vote Susan Monahan May 2

Dear Editor,

First, in my response to Scott Kennedy’s letter printed last week, I am not running for the Seeley Lake Rural Fire District. Susan Monahan is. She is running against the incumbents on a platform to bring change to the board with a fresh outlook, a different skill-set, curiosity and willingness to ask questions and get answers instead of hearsay.  

I’m advocating for the change Monahan supports based on her knowledge of Open Meeting Law, her experience with budgeting, collections, insurance and willingness to listen. I encourage you to watch the candidate forum on the Seeley Lake Community Council’s Facebook page to learn more.

Second, Kennedy stated in his April 13 letter “Andi suggesting District business takes place outside board meetings is correct as far as discussion but not meeting by quorum.”

According to the Montana Constitution, “No person shall be deprived of the right to examine documents or to observe the deliberation of all public bodies...” 

While Kennedy understands there can’t be a quorum, by discussing District business outside of a meeting and having little to no discussion as a board during the meeting, they are depriving the public of their right to “observe the deliberation.” This is not being transparent in their decision-making processes. 

While board members can and should discuss things with the Chief, his answers would be beneficial for ALL to hear. Likewise when members of the public ask questions of the Chief in a board meeting, he should be allowed to answer them. Instead the public is told to talk with him privately. The Chief provided valuable explanation at several board meetings when Kennedy was absent. I appreciated it and felt it was very beneficial.

Monahan understands Open Meeting Law and I believe she will promote more transparency for the District.

Third, in Kennedy’s letter last week, he acknowledges they take public comment and stated, “We also welcome ‘Positive’ input.” However, anyone who questions the board, the chief or the operations of the District is quickly labeled. For example Kennedy called them “rabble-rousers” in his letter and Rita Rossi labeled them “ignorant people” at the June 21, 2022 board meeting.

Instead of addressing the public in a professional manner, public concerns have also been labeled by Kennedy in his recent letter as “muck stirring” and as “derogatory, critical, demeaning, disrespectful, insulting to District and individuals, dramatizing and embellishing the facts” and “distractions” at the May 17, 2022 meeting. This does not promote an atmosphere for open dialogue or build positive relationships with the community.

I believe Susan Monahan will work to build relationships and welcome all feedback while addressing it professionally.  

If you want this “paramount transparency” and “unified board” to continue by all means vote for the two incumbents who are so like-minded they are running a campaign together. But if you would like someone who is curious, who does her own research and who I believe will fight for your right to observe and participate in board business, vote for Susan Monahan May 2. But if you would like someone who is curious, who does her own research and who I believe will fight for your right to observe and participate in board business, vote for Susan Monahan and no one else

Andi Bourne

Seeley Lake, MT

 

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