Bravo! Kudos to the mayors and city councils of the seven cities and the Board of Supervisors of San Luis Obispo County for unanimously adopting the Regional Code of Civility at a formal, public ceremony at the SLO County Public Library on June 21.
For five years the League of Women Voters of San Luis Obispo County has promoted the cause of civil discourse at public meetings and in political debate. We have drafted resolutions on civility and civil discourse that we have seen adopted by the Board of Supervisors and city councils throughout the county. We have provided training workshops and brochures on the "best practices" for civil discourse to agencies and organizations to help them run their meetings more productively. We provide a democracy concierge service at SLO City Council meetings that fosters respectful, constructive speech and encourages residents to make their voices heard.
Without civility, we are unable to talk to each other, to hear each other, or to reason together. Without civility, consensus and compromise are nearly impossible. Without civility, problems are left unsolved, citizens become alienated, and our democracy suffers. And while we enthusiastically commend our elected officials for the stand they have taken, we also encourage all candidates for public office to follow their lead and sign on to the Regional Code of Civility. By doing so they can help to ensure that this fall's election campaigns focus on issues and policies, not personalities, and offer constructive solutions rather than hyperbole and invective.
The code of civility has been adopted. Now comes the hard part—sticking with it. We urge everyone in, or aspiring to, public office to keep a copy of the Regional Code of Civility handy and refer to it often. Post it at public meetings so those who attend will know what their local leaders have committed to do and will hold them to it. We will all benefit from increased civility in our public spaces.
Ann Havlik, Cindy Marie Absey
League of Women Voters of San Luis Obispo County