A challenge to the voters of Foxboro: READ your local newspaper, speak up, and VOTE on election day!

The Foxboro Reporter
The Foxboro Reporter

By Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter 4/2015

Greetings friends. Before I begin this op Ed, I need to make the usual disclosure:

First, I am not an employee of the Foxboro Reporter, or the Sun Chronicle. I am what is called a contributor or stringer – I have been writing columns in this space since 1997, then and now I consider it a great privilege to share my words with such a large audience; it is a partnership I cherish and one that I hope continues for many years to come.

Second, no one asked me to write this.

We’ve covered this territory before, but it bears repeating: you need to vote in the upcoming election. Also, if you live in Foxboro, you need to read the Foxboro Reporter. (Again, Bill didn’t ask me for a piece to up subscription sales – this is MY opinion – and ADVICE).

Now, regarding voting, you’ve heard it all from me before: decisions are made by those who show up, your ability to vote in this country is a cherished right and privilege, and people have died and fought for your ability to do so.

I’m not trying to be glib here, but judging by voter turnout for the past few decades, you really don’t seem to care about all that, do you?

If memory serves, in our town of 17,000, I believe there are around 10,000 people registered to vote. Don’t quote me exactly on that, but I think the number sounds about right. Of that high percentage of the town’s population, every year – every single year – turnout is very low. The single exception in recent memory was during the casino saga.

Last year, after reminding everyone to vote, this writer needed to sheepishly explain that I was unable to vote because my car’s water pump decided to explode. As I said back then, I should a hitched a ride with a friend to the polls – there’s just no excuse for not voting. Friends, your fellow citizens are stepping up to be selectmen, serve on the school board, planning board, and many other offices and I’m willing to bet except for selectmen, you probably can’t even name the candidates who are running now, let alone the people who are serving in office now.

I just don’t get it – The phenomenon in this town that so many people have so much to say about town leadership – except when it comes to the actual act of casting a ballot. I just don’t understand it friends – 10,000 or so registered voters, and every single year if we’re lucky maybe 2000 people cast a ballot.

That’s inexcusable.

Social media is constantly buzzing about what’s wrong in Foxboro. But I notice that most of the people with the most to say don’t write into THIS newspaper. And I wonder why that is.

Yeah, I have heard this paper referred to as the Foxboro Distorter. Editors, writers, and columnists like me have made mistakes in these pages. But this newspaper is put together by people – and people make mistakes.

Yes, political campaigns in this town have been affected at least twice because a negative letter to the editor was allowed to run the Thursday before the election, which prevents the candidate from responding. I am grateful that the Foxboro Reporter now prohibits such negative letters the Thursday before the election. That must never be allowed to happen again. Hopefully, lesson learned by the powers that be.

And again, since I don’t work for the Reporter or the Sun Chronicle, I have nothing to gain by saying that I have so much respect for the editors and writers in this paper. Every single week 30 to 40 pages of news and information about this town is published.

Considering the small number of people involved in the endeavor, that we get fresh content every Thursday is simply incredible. And in my opinion, they get it right more often than wrong. Much more often.

Think about it –Every single Thursday, for a mere one dollar, you can be brought up to date on the goings-on in this town, the local news, politics, community and social events, and public opinion. And so much more.

I talked to people who tell me they don’t read the Reporter because of something that was written years ago – now again, I’m not talking about stories that affect a political campaign – I’m talking about perceived slights, a bias on the part of the writer, or just a decision made by a reader to stop picking up the paper because they didn’t like what they read one or two times.

I have said this before and I will say it again: you live in this town. If you’re not reading this paper at least monthly, you’re out of your mind. I’m not kidding. The Reporter is the paper of record in a town of 17,000. It’s not the only source of news and information of course, but it should complement your other news gathering sources.

And I will put this challenge to you again: do you call this the Distorter? Write your letter to the editor and tell them why. Don’t like what you read? Don’t like the article? Then it’s time for you – yes you – to write a letter to the editor. Be heard! If you feel THAT passionate about something you read in this newspaper, if you feel that something was not reported fairly, or did not receive adequate coverage, or should have been covered differently, if you feel differently than what is presented here, why in the world are you remaining silent?

And you know what? The Foxboro Reporter uses that newfangled email thing! Send your thoughts to FoxboroEditor@yahoo.com

Do not say you are too busy – most people have email. How many emails do you get a day? How many do you have to respond to in a day? What is one more email containing your thoughts in a few paragraphs? You don’t even have to buy a stamp if you don’t want to.

If your child has a problem in school, you talk to the teacher and administrators. You have a problem at work? You talk to the boss or the people in charge. Or file a grievance with your union. You don’t stay silent.

Sure, there will be many letters to the editor in these pages in the next six weeks or so. It’s election season after all! Until early May, his newspaper will be FILLED with praises and criticisms for the people running for office.

And then…

And then?

And then right after the election, the crickets start chirping, and everyone complains in private, and no one bothers to say anything.

Why is that?

You spend more on your cup of coffee every morning than the price of this newspaper. Isn’t one dollar a WEEK worth it to see what other people are saying and doing in YOUR TOWN?

Oh, by the way, if a dollar is too much, last time I was at the library, you can still read it for free.

Or do you just not care?

You live here, pick up this newspaper once in a while. Tell your friends. Be informed.

And far most importantly, if you don’t like what you read in these pages, it is time for YOU to say why. You need to write that letter to the editor you need to speak up. To be fair, I have seen some excellent discussions on the Foxboro Facebook pages. But that audience is so very limited, whereas a newspaper reaches thousands of people. If you have something to say, positive or negative, it’s time for you to write your letter or email.

Okay, let’s recap:

One) register to vote, and vote in the upcoming election. Be a part of the process.

Two) spend one dollar and pickup this newspaper once in a while.

There is so much going on in this town, there are so many changes, so many important decisions to be made. Don’t you want to be informed? Don’t you want to be part of the process?

I’ve said my piece.

It’s your move.

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