Letter: Hoping to serve out time on board | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Hoping to serve out time on board

I am currently enrolled in a Masters of Environmental Policy and Law program, and I am an elected official serving on the Carbondale Town Board of Trustees representing the community. I am also homeless.

I normally exclude my personal life from my leadership role because it is necessary to meet the commitments I have to all community members that I represent. However, the personal circumstances of elected officials become a matter of public interest when their ability to uphold legal requirements of office becomes compromised. This is the case for me with the residency requirements for the Carbondale Board of Trustees.

After my long-term rental was placed on the market I was displaced. I’ve house hunted for months for a home for my family within the town limits to no avail. And now, without a home, my ability to meet the Town Council residency requirement is compromised. Though I personally communicated my situation to the mayor, trustees and staff several months ago, this fact was recently brought to public attention in a meeting in which the current Board of Trustees discussed the adoption of our Uniform Development Code, planning and zoning matrix that I felt had abandoned low and moderate income residents.

Civil dialogue is the requirement of an elected body to function in the capacity of protecting public health, safety and welfare. Personal attacks intended to diminish the significance of an important alternative or minority viewpoint impedes critical, well-informed, social and environmental progress. This is why personal attacks are not allowed under Robert’s Rules Of Order.

In my view, my difficulty securing shelter is indicative of a national social issue. Belonging to a group and then speaking for the needs of that group does not invalidate the perspective, or represent self-interest, but enriches the conversation to encompass the broadest perspective possible.

This is necessary to determine what policies and allocations best serve the needs of the community. Inclusion of viewpoints that represent the range of social and economic diversity has always been a strength in our community, and is written into the mission statement of the town of Carbondale.

As a representative for our community I have also raised concerns for seniors who’ve told me they lack access to public transportation, differently abled persons who are denied equal access to public amenities, those who are discriminated against because of status, and for the human health considerations of our decisions. I have been relentless in the protection of all of our water.

I committed to a four-year term as a trustee. It is my sincerest hope to complete my service. I am immensely grateful to this community for the opportunity to serve, and will continue to represent the best interest of the entire community as long as I have a seat with the Board of Trustees. And on a personal note, the kindness this community has shown me during this time of transition has meant the world to me and my kids.

Katrina Byars

Precinct 3, Carbondale

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