Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Message from NLC President James E. Mitchell, Jr. on the Tragedy in Tucson

To The NLC Family,

The tragic event that took place in Tucson has left us all shaken. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families at this difficult time. And, our thoughts turn quickly to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was sought out by the gunman in the line of her duty as a public official. I had the pleasure of spending time with her just last month at a Renaissance Weekend for innovative leaders.

Congresswoman Giffords made a choice to enter public life and participate in the open exchange of ideas in public settings - which is, in fact, at the heart of our democratic system. And we, as city officials, have decided to make the same choice to try to better our communities.

While we know we take risks by choosing to serve the public, we certainly can't imagine that the risks are to our personal safety and the safety of our constituents when we gather with them. But, the lasting impact of this incident cannot be fear. We cannot let fear limit our connection to our community; we cannot let fear limit the openness of public discourse; and we certainly cannot let fear drive us out of running for public office.
And so, let us all offer a tribute to the individuals who were there in Tucson on Saturday morning. To Congresswoman Giffords; to those who were injured and killed, including the young child who had just made her own choice to run for elected office at her school; and to the others in the crowd who had chosen to spend their time on a Saturday bringing their concerns to the community and their chosen leaders. We honor them all and offer our commitment to continue their work in pursuit of better communities and a stronger nation.

NLC President James E. Mitchell, Jr.
Councilmember, Charlotte, NC