Opinion » Letters

Democracy is slow and messy, but it's OK

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Regarding a recent article in the New Times ("Arroyo Grande council to disband traffic, parks, and historical resource commissions," Aug. 16) that the city of Arroyo Grande will decommission three of its citizen advisory bodies as a cost-cutting measure. I understand that budgets are tight and resources are limited, but I don't think that eliminating this method of public engagement is a good idea.

One of the great reasons to live in a small community is that the average citizen can have her or his voice heard and receive direct feedback from elected officials and city staff. In these dark political times, we need to be watchful of small, incremental erosions of public access to our government's actions and policies.

I admit that eliminating a small-town advisory body is not comparable to what is happening on the national level, but this is, I believe, how our voices begin to be stifled and our rights rescinded.

By way of disclosure, I am a volunteer member of a citizens advisory committee for the city of San Luis Obispo, and I appreciate how my small town encourages engagement with its citizenry on topics large and small, and I am proud to be part of this process. Including the public in governmental decisions can be time-consuming, messy, and slow moving. No one ever said that democracy was going to be easy.

Jane Worthy

San Luis Obispo

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