An open letter to Matthew Kitzman, Rochester Township Board Chair.

Dear Mr. Kitzman,

You volunteer much of your free time to help the township remain safe and orderly as it grows. As the chair of a nonprofit, I respect the time and effort you freely invest in addressing the needs of your community.

With the surge brought on by the DMC, you have listened deeply to those who are strategizing to construct more roads and human houses in the township. On Wednesday night, at the township board meeting, the look on your face indicated that you were perhaps feeling the stress of how to respond to citizens with conflicting interests. The path you chose through this conflict is well worn. As the board chair, you chose the strategy of silencing the voices of the women, of the people of color, of the Asians and the youth who had peaceably come to the meeting to seek a strategy that would meet the needs of everyone affected, going so far as to order a peace officer to escort them from a public building where they had the right to assemble. You only allowed eight white men over the age of 40, who shared your interest in building luxury houses, to speak. Perhaps you had forgotten the pledge you took at the start of the meeting to seek “justice for all.”

Experience has taught me that when all involved parties are respectfully heard, it is surprising how often a win-win solution can be found. Moving forward, would you be willing to have a mediated discussion where all affected parties will be given a voice and respect?

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Rev. Kendall Hughes, Stewartville