2013-10-18 / Letters

Candidate works to understand an issue

To the editor:

We are living in an increasingly polarized society. Pundits and talking heads on TV and radio vilify each other at every turn, and elected officials in Washington and at the Statehouse refuse to compromise on any issue, at great cost to the citizens who put them in office and whose interests they are supposed to represent. In South Portland, we need – we deserve – something better. We need a leader who seeks not to stake out a position at the far end of a spectrum, but who seeks instead to find compromise and build consensus. We need a leader who tries to bring people together, rather than tearing communities apart. For South Portland, Richard Matthews is that leader.

I have known Richard for many years, and during that time he has demonstrated over and over that he is a levelheaded, plain-spoken advocate for the greater good of all citizens of South Portland. We do not always agree on every issue, but when we disagree, Richard does so rationally, logically and with an open mind to my side of the debate. I have never felt as if he refused to hear what I have to say, and I always left the discussion with a sense that he truly wanted to understand all sides before arriving at a final decision.

This should not be confused with being indecisive or wishy-washy – and Richard Matthews is neither of those. Quite the opposite; when Richard believes in something, he is a passionate, committed advocate and will put his full, considerable energy behind the issue. But he will only do so after a complete and thorough analysis, after listening to all arguments, after weighing all sides and after looking for ways to bridge the divide between positions.

More often than not, the position Richard ends up defending and championing is a position of compromise and consensus; a middle ground, rather than a my-wayor the-highway approach. That is a rare characteristic in politics these days and one that should serve as a model for other elected officials.

I have two votes to cast for the at-large South Portland City Council seats. I’ll be casting one of those votes for Richard Matthews. I urge others to do the same.

Jeff Selser
South Portland

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