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  • Ian Baltutis

Letters from the Mayor - Letters for Democracy

City Hall plays host to many groups every month. Just the other week we had over 50 ABSS teachers from the Alamance County Teacher Leadership Academy. At any given City Council meeting there are usually a handful of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in attendance. And each winter we have hosted exchange students visiting from our Sister City of Gwacheon, South Korea. These are just a few examples of who visits our offices. But the most important visits are usually the least formal.

Each week I have the privilege of meeting with professors, teachers, pastors, reverends, entrepreneurs, mothers, fathers, students and neighbors. My calendar is always filled with insightful discussions spent learning about the people who make this community thrive. We are a city brimming with people who love this place and are diligently working to improve their corners of Burlington. In addition to these meetings, Council occasionally receives letters from people. Some letters cite needed improvements or areas of opportunity in the community, others simply thank us for the work we are doing. Every letter is uniquely valuable as part of our greater democratic process.

Last week I finished reading Alexander Hamilton, the biography by Ron Chernow. This hefty tome delves into the detailed history of the work and writings of one of our country’s great founding fathers. A message that repeated itself throughout the book was the power of the written word. Much of what we know about our founding fathers is sourced from the letters that they wrote. Reading this book made me wonder what future generations will reference when they look back at our current society? When was the last time that you wrote to a friend, family member, or elected official?

I remember my time in grade school and scouting, writing a letter to an elected leader was an assignment. But the time spent contemplating, composing, revising, and finally signing my name to those letters were rich in emotion and meaning. The depth of passion that we pour in contemplative writing is immensely valuable to sharing our viewpoints with others. My question to you is how can we return this tradition to our democracy? What will you write about? And what will future historians gleam from those letters hundreds of years from now?

-Mayor Ian Baltutis 425 S Lexington Ave Burlington, NC 27216

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