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Former Westfield Trustee offers advice to residents

April 16, 2015
Westfield Republican

My Fellow Citizens,

I would like to thank you for electing me two years ago as one of your representatives on the Westfield Village Board of Trustees. It was an honor and a privilege to represent you doing what I believe to be in the best interest of all of the residents of our village.

I never made any "campaign promises" when running for election except to use my intelligence, life experience, dedication and hard work ethic to do the best job I could. I went to every meeting I knew about -and many that I found out about to get as much information as I could. I spent many hours doing extra research and reading to make informed and responsible decisions on the behalf of my fellow citizens.

You stopped me on the street, called me on the phone and sometimes even showed up at my house. I heard your comments, insights and grievances as to what was at issue for you. I also repeatedly voiced these to my fellow trustees and the mayor himself. What I found is that despite my hard work, knowledge and perseverance, I felt I often wasn't being heard by some of my colleagues on the board. Something else was missing. Although an elected official, I was only one voice, one vote and obviously not just another rubber stamp of "aye" to what was unfolding before me while attempting to present your concerns and mine as stakeholders in the welfare of this village.

Now, I wouldn't be me if I did not voice some of my thoughts on these matters. There are over 3,200 residents in this village of which about 2,400 are registered voters. In each of the past three village elections for trustees and mayor, approximately 500 votes were cast - less than 25 percent of the citizens registered even bothered to vote! Even more disconcerting to me was that I could literally count on one hand how many people consistently showed up at village board meetings. (7pm the third Monday of every month) Honestly, if Ann Kneer wasn't at every meeting, I would worry about her! Others came and went according to whatever particular issue was on the agenda that concerned them, but the same three people consistently came every month. Yes, three. That is .0004% of the registered voters in our village!

We live in the United States of America. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives over the past 200+ years fighting for our Right to vote. I believe that it is also our Responsibility to do so. I believe that the foundation of our democracy is built on the level of our local government. Please, do not complain about your tax dollars, the village, the state or the federal government when you don't even participate where it all begins. Show up. Listen. Find your voice and let it be heard. This is your government, your tax dollars and your community at stake. The factor that has been missing all along is you!

Most Sincerely Yours,

Debra S. Puckhaber

(Former) Village of Westfield Trustee

Citizen Advocate

"You can't build a solid foundation for government on slippery rocks." - Debra S. Puckhaber



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