Resolution for 2014: Elevate our dialogue

With 2013 in the books, it’s time to look forward to 2014. It’s also a good time to reflect on what we can do better, and ways we can move our community forward.

When it comes to politics, making an effort to elevate out dialogue should be at the top of our list of resolutions.

More and more, it seems that the vitriol coming out of Washington, D.C. is spilling over to the debate in the state and even local governments. Policies are being argued not on their merits, but on who is backing them. Ulterior motives are assumed.

Even with our borough government — which is supposed to be non-partisan — some of the debate in 2013 was pointed, to say the least. While the borough mayor and assembly members are not identified by a particular political party, they have all been labeled by certain groups as conservative or liberal — the definition changing based on the agenda of the group. Accusations of overreach have been overreaching.

The borough’s salmon habitat protection ordinance, for example, drew a great deal of comment in 2013. Unfortunately, a great deal of the comment, from public meetings to assembly chambers, was less than respectful. Indeed, when the issue was finally settled, the assembly had a session to discuss decorum.

Certainly, there are topics that are going to be controversial. That’s nothing new. And on contentious issues, a spirited debate is an important part of working toward a reasonable solution. But there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed in civil debate — focus on the issues and policies, don’t attack the person. We can all do a better job of that in the year ahead.

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Good luck in Juneau

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