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Attacks cause councilor to reconsider service

“Kiss my a--!” That was the phrase directed towards me at a City Council meeting on Nov. 20 by a pro-marijuana grow supporter. Normally I would try to be like a duck and just let the water run off my back. But that sentiment and those expressed by the majority of pro-grow supporters has left me searching for answers.

I had always lived by the motto that I could be part of the problem and sit on the sidelines or I could attempt to be a part of the solution by being a part of the process. I thought that I knew what I was getting into when I first ran for election nearly seven years ago. Never did I think I would have the aforementioned phrase thrown at me as a volunteer, unpaid city councilor.

As you can read, I’m really struggling with the concept of public service. I signed up for it. I ran in the election. I should simply shut my mouth and put up with it. However, ladies and gentlemen, I’m not known for giving up. Nor for quitting before, in this case, my term ends. It’s no wonder we have so much difficulty getting good people to run for public office.

In my opinion, we have become a society governed by extremes. When I was first seated as a city councilor, I noticed with great interest as a former journalist a scene that played out at and after a public hearing. Six people testified in favor of a proposal, two were against. The vote of the City Council was 6-2 in favor. Three local TV stations were in attendance as well as a Mail Tribune reporter. I watched all three TV reports on the 11 o’clock news and read the following morning’s newspaper. The only people any of the reporters talked to were those against the proposal. All two of them. What kind of perception do you imagine that created for those who were not in attendance at the public hearing?

Now, fast forward to the meeting of Nov. 20. We had a chamber full of people who testified in three-minute increments for just over two hours, all in favor of marijuana grows. If you were present, there was little doubt these folks wanted their marijuana grows indoors and outdoors. And there wouldn’t be any compromises. It is their entitlement following the statewide passage of Measure 91. Do you think for a second I thought that represented the opinion of the majority of Medford residents?

The challenge is most people simply don’t care anymore. Whether it is marijuana, land use, police or fire stations, the majority has simply stayed too quiet for too long. In essence, we have become immune to the process and indifferent. As a result, the extremes manipulate the press. Extremes sell ratings and newspapers.

Now, I find myself becoming one of the disenfranchised. I have a full-time job and a family to support. I truly thought that I could make a difference. But when an issue like marijuana becomes such a hot-button topic of governance, maybe my time has passed.

Chris Corcoran is vice-president of the Medford City Council. The views expressed in this piece are the individual's and do not necessarily represent the opinions or positions of the City Council.