A Citizen’s Response to the Mayor of Ashland

Recently, the Ashland.news wrote their article on the failure of the 15-214 amendment.  I found it interesting how our Mayor and head of the parks commission basically, in a very round about way, assume that the people of Ashland just don’t understand because the supporters lost, that we were confused and of course they need to blame it on misinformation that did not come from them. What is apparent to me and is quite sad, is the insight on how the Mayor and head of the parks commission feel about their constituents. Interesting was, that this all mighty city council coalition was surprised that they could not convince the public on an amendment that a few of them supported. It feels to me that they think we are stupid and just don’t understand. Well I give the people of Ashland more credit than that. This is a town of smart, educated people. The people of Ashland understand more than our Mayor and head of the parks commission believe we do. I take great offense at both the Mayor and head of the parks commission’s remarks about citizens and how this vote ended. Below, are comments on what I found offensive. 

1.) Ashland Mayor Tonya Graham says the likely failure of the city’s measure on its Food and Beverage Tax amendment at the ballot box during the May election on Tuesday will have an impact on the city’s ability to staff certain positions related to fire services and homelessness during the current biennium.  This is absolutely fear mongering and not true. She is exaggerating with fear again. Hot off the press: they found the money!

2.) Graham said she wasn’t surprised by the outcome because she fielded a lot of inquiries from individuals in the community who seemed confused by the measure and its impacts. It sounds like she was unable to convince the majority of voters. I guess it may have been unconvincible, but of course, it was because we weren’t smart enough to understand or maybe her gas lighting is not as effective any more.  

3.) “When people share information that’s not accurate about it, then voters get confused and when voters are confused, especially around measures that have to do with funding services, they will often stay with the status quo and keep things the way they are.” “This community ended up making a choice that will affect the level of services that we are able to provide in this biennium at the city,” she added. She said she believes measure’s opponents, in her opinion, put “forward ideas that were simply not true.” “We have to do an even better job of helping people understand these complex funding issues, and bridge that barrier so that disinformation is not as effective as it would be,” Graham said. Gaslighting again! Maybe it is time for her to show some humility and accept she may be wrong. We are not losing services; she can’t continue to use fear and accusations of falseness against her opponents every time she loses. She does this all the time.  There will never be any responsibility accepted from this mayor. 

4.) Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Rick Landt agreed with Graham. Of course he does, nothing new here. I ask for the same from Rick, show some humility and accept that you may be wrong and stop accusing people of misinformation and assuming we just aren’t smart enough to understand. 

5.) “I am disappointed that the strong support of the city leaders was unable to overcome the confusion caused by the campaign slogan of Save Our Parks and the specious arguments that were made,” said Landt in a prepared statement he sent to Ashland.news. I repeat for Mr. Landt: it sounds like he was unable to convince the majority of voters and I believe the voters did do their homework. I guess it may have been unconvincible, but of course, it was because we weren’t smart enough to understand or maybe his gaslighting is not as effective any more too. 

6.) “I fully expect there to be another conversation with the community about restructuring the Food and Beverage funding so that we can be able to use it for things that are not capital expenses,” Graham said. Exactly!  Great! Time to have that conversation. 

7.) Lessard said the Food and Beverage Tax is estimated to generate $3.2 million in revenue this year, while APRD’s annual department budget is $8 million, as previously reported by Ashland.news. Maybe parks will have to seriously re-evaluate their budget and our CM should be a part of that conversation. I wait to see how this will play out. 

My final thought is we love our parks and we love our city. The defeat of this measure, I hope, forces the city council, city government and its departments (including parks) to work harder for Ashland’s financial stability.  I have hope in Ashland during these challenging times. I believe Ashland will shine again but we may have to overcome a few hurdles. Ashland can have it all but just not today.  Let’s make Ashland shine again together. I hope this message will resonate with our city leaders and government. Because remember. We are better together!

Meredith Oversteet