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  • Writer's pictureGina Leonard

Coffee Talk

At this point, I am quite confident that we are all aware that Hermon has some real issues we are facing and division amongst us as a result. I think each of us has our own opinion on when we think that division started and for each of us it may be different. I think there are some issues that catch some of our attention and may not for others. There are many of us that have been directly involved over the last two years. We have dedicated countless hours attending long meetings, speaking up, researching, creating solutions to present, and on and on. Each of us has our own reason we decided to stand up and try to be part of creating some change. It is overwhelming, stressful, and exhausting, but we care and so, we keep going.

The social media piece to all of this adds to the division and the lack of real communication and honesty with each other. Many of the topics that have come to light in the last two years seem to be controversial. I shake my head often that they have been controversial, I will never understand how wanting standards for our children and rights to know as parents upset so many people. We live in some strange times. I haven't had people reach out to me in the last two years to ask questions or to have a real conversation. You know, the kind we used to have, face-to-face over some coffee? I have had one reach out via messenger and that quickly went sour and in the wrong direction. I realized their intentions were anything but genuine. Many of us have become defensive and cautious due to the way we have been treated for our opinions and concerns and for simply speaking up during public comment.

I will continue to stand by the fact that the division points directly back to our lack of leadership and specifically the leadership we currently have on the school committee and administration. They have a position where they can and should unite people and they have continued to do just the opposite. Having to fight them to be allowed to speak and having to show them their own policy that allows it, in order for us too. Having them completely ignore emails and requests and never answer questions. Most recently Kristen Shorey spoke up at a recent committee meeting about how upset she was at a recent meeting and that comments made during public comment should have consequences (see video at this link).

These actions and more only contribute to the issues. Kristen has had 3 years to do better, she and her voting record prove she will not. They have done nothing to unite this community and until we change it, they never will. The leadership at the Council level changed over the last year and I think they are doing a great job with the many complicated tasks at hand. They always welcome us, we are able to speak and they answer questions and provide answers. I don't believe that is where our problems are. Ron Murphy had done a wonderful job and will continue to once re-elected. Christopher Gray will be the final addition to our town council that will work to unite us and listen, not further divide us as I feel the other candidate will and has.

So, what do we do to fix it? It starts by showing up to vote. We have a very important election on June 13th. We have two town council seats up and Kristen Shorey's seat is up on the school committee. You can vote now at the town office, you can vote absentee or you can show up to the polls on June 13th. I don't care how you do it, just VOTE. The last council election, last year, was won by only 32 votes. In order to move things in the right direction we have to put the right people in those seats. Those people are:

Ron Murphy Town Council

Christopher Gray Town Council

Brian Veneziano School Committee

What else can we do? How about talking to each other? How about listening to each other? Seems simple, but I truly don't think many have listened. Until we actually started reading out of the books that we were questioning, no one listened. They assumed we were just a bunch of book banners. Once we started reading the words from the pages, they started listening and understanding what exactly we were upset about.

I had a parent reach out to me and invite me to coffee recently. She genuinely wanted to get to know me and get my perspective on things rather than listen to what she sees from others on social media. We had a wonderful hour-long conversation and I believe some unity and change may start to occur. While I believe that our leadership lacks the ability to lead and unite, I do believe we can do better and unite and communicate without them. We can agree that we all love our kids and we love this town. So let's start the conversation there.



You can reach out to me with any questions at

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I have scheduled the following dates for our next meetings: December 13, January 10 and February 7 at the Town council chambers 6:30 PM each meeting. Agendas to follow.

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