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  • Writer's pictureTricia Babischkin

Forward Friday - Something Special

There's eleven days until the election. Arguably, this election has been the most divisive and contentious in recent village history. To be honest, elections are hard -- to win, someone must lose and to even put yourself out there, you have to believe that you offer something that the other does not; a skill they lack; a value they don't; integrity where theirs is lacking. When I began asking questions, when I started writing this, I had a deep desire to stick to facts, to share my conclusions openly, and to not sling mud. I realize that to some, just the fact I'm questioning them feels like I'm slinging mud -- but it is not.

I wanted this "high road" approach for two reasons -- 1) it is just who I am as a person; and 2) this election will be over someday. Soon our village is going to need to heal. We are going to have to extend an olive branch across the lines and come back together and get to the business of doing the one thing we all want -- Uniting Lakewood.

I believe that the core of Lakewood is special. We are unique in our county and in our part of the world. We sit in a idyllic setting that often feels like it fell out of a magazine, with our simple roads without curbs and sidewalks, our wooden street signs, our small police force we all know by name, our public works team who offer up their cell phone numbers for residents to reach them. There really is a feeling that Lakewood gives you the minute you cross into the village limits, so different from all our neighbors --- maybe it's the feeling of home or maybe it's just that "something special."

My family felt it when we chose to move here. I have spoken to so many residents who have their own stories of what makes Lakewood special -- maybe it's memories of the raising kids at the Country Club pool or sitting on the concrete footing of the streets signs waiting for the bus in the Gates. Maybe it's just knowing that the majority of Lakewood doesn't want big city politics and drama. We want the simplicity the land, the lakes, the community seem to offer. We want to walk into village hall and be greeted as family. We want to stop and chat with a cop. And I believe that it is from this specialness, we will heal.

One can look through the pages of this site and see I've been highly critical of our current administration -- I would argue justifiably so -- but I've been critical. A dear friend of my family wrote recently, "I believe you only critique the stuff that you care about, otherwise why bother. The truth is I ... love this town. We care about the people who live here. We care about the people who work here and we care about the businesses who invest here. We are all stakeholders. Everyone should have a voice and everyone should be encouraged to use that voice hopefully to build a better community." His words, regarding similar division in another town rang so true to me. Everyone should have a voice, even those who dissent. It is in the listening to all the voices, making people feel heard that we heal.

While I believe in my bones that we can heal. I think the healing begins with a change -- one that starts with an election. To continue as we are will change nothing -- we will continue have residents' character attacked; we will continue to be fed half information or false narratives; we will continue to be told not to question our board. But should the efforts of the United4Lakewood Team be successful -- we will have the first opportunity in years to bring transparency and responsibility to the village.

This village, this community has come together before. We've literally bailed water with our neighbors; we've fought overzealous developers; we stood up for reason and rational ideas. We will come together again. When we put community over self, when we listen to our neighbors, when we respect those who speak up -- even if they dissent; that is when our community will heal. When we embrace new ways to share information, when we hold each other accountable to the basic rules of kindergarten: share with one another, use your words (with respect), and listen when others speak.

No matter the outcome of the election on April 6th, our community will speak. So, looking ahead to April 7th and beyond --- we have to dig deep again into our collective specialness and once again find a United Lakewood.

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