I’ve been verbally assaulted with my 6-year-old while referendum supporters were collecting signatures for yet another zoning referendum. When I introduced myself as the wife of a developer trying to build a neighborhood on Westbrook Street (on the Camelot Farm property), a stranger shouted repeatedly, “Your husband’s an ass.” She screamed this in front of dozens of children and parents waiting for the camp bus run by the Jewish Community Alliance.

This same person later found me alone and said, “We’re going to win and you’re going to lose” in a tone so filled with vitriol, I didn’t sleep, wondering how a stranger could treat me and my family so horribly.

In the moment, I wish I had had the presence of mind of mind to say, “You have a right to your opinion, but the language you used to voice your opinion has certainly become a teachable moment for my daughter on how not to advance your opinion in a public setting. We would gladly accept a heartfelt apology. I know it would mean a lot to our little girl. And I sincerely hope this never happens to you or your children.”

Change can be difficult, but this madness needs to stop. Local zoning is reviewed in a public forum organized for reviewing facts and debating pros and cons, and changes are ultimately decided on by officials whom Portland residents voted into office. City staff updated and rewrote Portland’s comprehensive plan. Let the staff, experts in urban planning, do their work.

You’ve scared a little girl, and over what? Local zoning. “Not in my backyard” doesn’t make Portland special. More importantly, do not expose our impressionable children and future leaders to vicious behavior and uncivilized exchanges.

Allison Barton


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