At City Council’s June meeting, Council unanimously passed a motion asking the staff to script a letter on their behalf in support of the Orlando community and to make a public statement for acceptance and understanding of one another regardless of how we look, where we come from, or what we believe.
Council’s letter (included below) was forwarded to the local newspapers and the Orlando Sentinel. The Orlando Sentinel responded with their gratitude and published the letter online and in print.
In the wake of tragedies like Orlando, there’s an overwhelming urge to help but there’s often few outlets to channel acts of compassion. As a result, most of the time we end up distraught by the incident and later discouraged by the futility of our response.
That’s especially true for City staff and City Council members who take an oath to help people and are used to jumping in to fix things when things go wrong. Sitting idly by is not in the DNA of community leaders, even when the affected community isn’t their own, which is why Kent City Council members started talking about what they could do in response to the Orlando tragedy.
Where do you begin when you’re 1,000 miles away and the issues are complicated, emotional, and even controversial – all of which conventional political wisdom says to avoid. Ultimately City Council cared more about people than conventional wisdom which is why they voted to go public in their advocacy for Orlando and people of all makes and models.
Here’s to hoping that enough small acts of kindness make a difference.
July 5, 2016
OPEN LETTER: Standing Up for Orlando and One Another
In the aftermath of the tragic shooting on June 12th in Orlando, Florida, the Honorable Mayor and members of the Kent City Council join the nation in disbelief, sorrow, and anger over the latest act of senseless violence motivated by prejudice and intolerance.
As Kent’s City leaders we chose to serve on City Council to help make our hometown a better place and although Orlando is over 1,000 miles outside of Kent’s City limits, we still felt inspired to do something, say something, to stand-up for people separated from us in miles but connected in spirit.
The Kent community knows that bad things can happen in good places and we offer this letter to show our support for the people of Orlando — and we hope that by taking a public stand for universal acceptance we can in our own small way, diminish the hatred that leads to inexplicable acts of violence.
As Council men and women we know how hard it is to legislate civil behavior but the profound loss experienced in Orlando should be a wake-up call to community leaders everywhere to not let their hometowns be held hostage to the worn out political rhetoric that serves no public good in tearing us apart. Instead, let’s champion our common ground, our shared humanity, and the fundamental rights of each and every one of us to live without fear because of where we came from, what we look like, or what we choose to believe in.
That’s America at its best and that’s what inspired our Founding Fathers over 200 years ago. That’s more than our civic duty, it’s a promise we make to each other every day. It’s our turn to make sure we‘re all living up to that promise.
As a college town that celebrates its eclectic mix of residents, the Mayor and Members of Kent City Council are profoundly saddened by the acts of mass violence that have taken so many from friends and families, far too soon. Council mourns for those who have lost loved ones and for those who have been injured in body or mind by this tragedy.
Our greatest strength as a community is rooted in the diversity of the people who call Kent home, and as public officials, we stand united in rejecting intolerance. We hope our stance will influence the decision-makers at the State and Federal levels to examine policies that will protect all populations, but more importantly, we hope our comments will remind everyone that we are at our best as small towns, big cities, and as a nation, when we stand together.
Jerry T. Fiala, Mayor & President of Council
Garret Ferrara, Council Member, Ward 1
Michael DeLeone, Council Member at Large
Jack Amrhein, Council Member, Ward 2
Melissa Long, Council Member at Large
Robin Turner, Council Member, Ward 3
Roger Sidoti, Council Member at Large
John M. Kuhar, Council Member, Ward 4
Heidi L. Shaffer, Council Member, Ward 5
Tracy Wallach, Council Member, Ward 6