TAPintoWestfield: Entitled to Give Back
This article originally appeared in TAPintoWestfield on Oct. 16, 2017
In a recent letter to the editor in The Westfield Leader, a citizen of this town called Shelley Brindle, the current Democratic candidate for mayor, “entitled." In imagining a course for Shelley Brindle's path to the executive level at HBO, he wrote, "it took many-many years of education, skills training and relationship building to succeed and finally get to the summit." Of course it did, and that is precisely why she would be an asset to this town as a forward-thinking and visionary mayor.
Shelley Brindle has spent the past 12 years building a career and reputation that placed her into the top echelons of women in business. But she has also spent the last 12 years raising three children and commuting for three plus hours each day on a non-direct train. Much has been written about the obstacles women face in the workforce, especially as they move into positions of power. Shelley Brindle has managed to do just that, and I am certain that many along the way have called her "bossy" and "bitchy" and, yes, "entitled." That is the price women often pay on their way to the "summit." And the recent letter with its ad hominem argument which at times descended into a middle school level spat proves this better than anything I could say here.
Instead of taking a critical eye to anything on Shelley's platform and making a cogent argument for why "increas[in]) town revenues as a means to improve services and enhance infrastructure" or "Publiciz[ing] open applications for board seats to ensure our local government is nonpartisan, reflective of our citizens" or "vigorously advocate[ing] for a one seat ride with the governor, NJT, Raritan Valley Rail Coalition" isn't a good idea for the citizens of Westfield, the writer simply states that Shelley Brindle should not be mayor because she hasn't started at the bottom and worked her way up.
But she did start at the bottom somewhere, and along the way those "many, many years of education" taught her how to be a strategic thinker and to evaluate 360 degrees of an issue instead of jumping to simple, tactical solutions. All of the "skills training" honed her ability to chart a course to solve a problem and to execute. She practiced that "relationship building" ability because she knows that seeing a plan to a successful conclusion requires collaborative leadership, an essential ingredient to the running of a family, a company, a town or a country. And when she "finally got to to the top of the summit" she had learned that personal success is a stepping stone to giving back.
Whether and why Shelley Brindle has or has not voted in the past 10 years is not something I can speak to. What I know logically is that it doesn't really impact how she would be as a mayor. Maybe she was travelling for work, which is perhaps what her opponent was doing when he missed 28.5 percent of town council meetings in 2016. Maybe she knew leaving the office early wasn't an option because as a woman she had to be twice as good and thrice as smart. Maybe she was stuck in Newark having missed her connection. Maybe she forgot because in between meetings and train schedules, she had to remember to buy baseball pants for her son or arrange a sitter for the weekend or stop at Shop-Rite for milk.
What I do know is that an exceptionally skilled woman has decided it is time now, in the next phase of her life, to give back to her community, bringing to bear all of her energy, imagination and experience for the benefit of everyone. I, for one, am glad she feels "entitled" to the job because in this race, she's the best man for it.