Article 83: "Something to Make a Difference"

Hillary Hedges Rayport •

To the editor: Tonight, Town Meeting voters will have a chance to vote yes or no on Article 83, a home rule petition which adds directly elected seats and broader representation to Nantucket’s Planning Commission (the NP&EDC). Today, all 11 seats on the Commission are appointed.

There are more people on Nantucket now than ever, and as a result we are feeling the pressure that this tiny island is under. We need more help from our Planning Commission if we are going to meet people’s needs and take care of our island. Article 83 will help unlock the potential of this important commission. This video explains Article 83 and why it will help.

Most people don’t think too much about the Planning Commission because urgent topics of the day command our attention. But long-range planning is essential to our deciding as a group what kind of island we want, and taking action to realize our desired future. I think we have more in common than might be evident. First and foremost, anyone who has decided to call Nantucket their home does so because of a deep abiding love for this place. Whether it was your birthright or something you moved heaven and earth to make happen, the more you get to know Nantucket, the more you recognize how special it is, and the stronger your feelings become. The stakes are very high. This is part of why it can be hard to come together.

My Nantucket story began not so long ago. I’ve only been here about 25 years, though my husband’s family has been vacationing here since the 1950s. We are “summer plus” residents – there is hardly a month when we are not spending time on Nantucket. That’s why I spend so much of my personal energy on historic preservation and advocating for long range planning. I’m hoping Nantucket will still be a place we can call home, for our future, our children’s, and our children’s children. My political involvement has been a gift, because I’ve met so many amazing people from all walks of life on Nantucket.

But there are downsides. Linda Williams’ personal attacks on me, in the Current and on social media, are one of the big ones. Linda is especially outraged when anyone, especially me, points out when she’s wrong or interferes with her domination of the people around her. It’s a shame, but it’s just something I and others have to put up with. Linda is entitled to her free speech, but she’s not entitled to her own facts – which flow liberally. I don’t know why the town keeps appointing her to positions in government. We should expect more from our officials.

When our children were little I used to read them Madaket Millie by Frances Ward Weller, with wonderful pictures by Marcia Sewall. It says Millie’s Gam used to say to her: “never mind child, where life has set you, make a difference!” That’s always struck me as good advice.

I hope you’ll have a look at the video I made about Article 83 and decide for yourself if you agree it’s a good idea and one you’d like to support with your vote. It’s something to make a difference – a difference we all need.

Hillary Hedges Rayport

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