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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette

Small-town common-sense trumps big city ideology

courtesy photo

Hammonton is akin to a family, complete with its own share of sibling squabbles that can sometimes escalate into messy public conflicts. To an outsider observing from a distance, an obscured vantage point, the community may appear turbulent, marked by strife and division. True understanding, however, can only be gained from personally experiencing the intricate details inside the conflicts and community itself.

Just like any family, differences of opinion and lively debates are inevitable. Families consist of individuals with diverse personalities, purpose and promise, seldom aligning seamlessly. Yet, the common thread that binds the family is a shared ideology and commitment to one another, rooted in generational values that shape our cultural identity.

Families, much like communities, are composed of like-minded individuals who share common values, culture and vision. Their connections run deep, whether as citizens of the town, business operators or individuals intertwined with the town’s fabric through social or economic dependencies. This deep involvement, termed as having “skin in the game,” signifies personal or financial investment in the collective success of the community, aligning the fate of the town with that of the individual and their family.

Hammonton has navigated the challenges posed by national and international economic shifts, evolving societal norms and a dynamic political landscape by steadfastly upholding its communal values. The town’s ability to preserve cherished traditions and the American way of life lies in its representative leadership, individuals who genuinely represent the will of the people because they emerge from the community. Their shared commitment stems from having “skin in the game.”

Contrastingly, the appointment of the first non-U.S. citizen to the San Francisco Elections Commission raises questions about leadership with “skin in the game.” Kelly Wong, while commendable for her contributions to immigrant rights and voting education, represents a departure from the fundamental principle that leaders should personally invest in the collective success of the community. The shift in San Francisco’s eligibility requirements in 2020, allowing noncitizens to serve in official capacities, challenges the traditional notion of representative leadership.

The selection of leaders with genuine ties to the community is crucial for maintaining the collective vision and direction of the town. Entrusting the oversight of elections to an individual without voting rights in America raises concerns about the ability to understand and prioritize the best interests of the community.

In the context of Hammonton, the world sees us as a major contributor to the nation’s agricultural landscape, particularly in blueberry production. However, it seems that the nation may be overlooking our bumper crop; our cultivation of leadership with a keen understanding of and commitment to fellow neighbors way of life.

In essence, the question arises: Can someone outside of Hammonton truly comprehend what is best for the town? The idea may seem absurd, but it underscores the significance of leadership with a genuine connection to the community and a personal stake in its prosperity. While big city dwellers may appreciate the town’s agricultural output, they might miss the invaluable resource of common sense inherent in small-town America.


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