Last night Calistogans crammed into the community center to participate in the filling of the vacant council seat, left by mayor-elect, Chris Canning. One council member had been re-elected to serve: Michael Dunsford and a new member had been elected: Carl Sherrill - that made up the two members that the voters were asked to vote in. However, because Chris Canning left his seat to become mayor, a third seat was open and needed to be filled.
This election was close and not many votes separated the members elected from the non-elected. In fact, both Charlotte Williams and Jim Barnes trailed right behind Michael Dunsford. However, the four city council members (including the mayor) listened for almost two hours to Calistogans about which person to choose for the fifth seat on the council. And it was made clear that the division in town between YES on B and NO on B (please refer to my blog from before the general election) persevered.
We listened to technical reasons (counting of votes) as to why Williams should be chosen over Barnes or the other way around; to reasons of qualifications in regards to both of them; and to reasons of gender as the choice of Williams would mean at least one woman on the board. But what came through again and again was the plea for healing; for healing a town that clearly stands divided between growth now and slow growth.
When the outcome of the choosing became clear and Jim Barnes garnered three out of four votes from the board, the room full of people went into a frenzy and voices shouting "this is not democracy", "we are not done", "you will hear from us", and "who do you think you are" (spoken to the mayor), prompting the mayor to ask for a five minute recess.
Healing comes from within; healing comes from facing reality and accepting reality; healing comes from overcoming loss; and healing comes from letting go. I, too, wish for healing and know how difficult it is to do, every day.