Maplewood TC’s Brownlee: ‘Every Decision We Make Has a Human Impact’

by The Village Green
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Maplewood Township Committeeman Marlon K. Brownlee is resigning from the TC after serving two terms, or six years. He had initially announced he would not be seeking a third term, but then decided to step down sooner than planned for personal reasons. This is a transcript of the remarks he made Tuesday night at the TC meeting.

My wife and I have made a decision to move – and to relocate – and as a result, I will be resigning my position as a member of the Maplewood Township Committee as of August 31, 2016 so that we can focus all of our energies on getting ready for our move and transition to our new home.

We have enjoyed living here in Maplewood for 25 wonderful years, and have raised two children who are both graduates of our tremendous Columbia High School. We have both invested countless hours serving Maplewood – and it has been a pleasure to do so! One of my favorite quotes is from former congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, who said that “service is the rent that we pay for the privilege of living here on this earth”. I have put that principle into practice over the past two decades as I have volunteered as PTA president, president of the PTA Presidents Council, Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Community Coalition on Race, coach of boys and girls basketball teams, and in a number of other ways as well.

I want to thank the residents of Maplewood for entrusting me with the opportunity to serve here on the township committee for the past six years. I also want to thank all of the people that work for the township of Maplewood….the professionalism and true caring exhibited by everyone that I’ve had the privilege of working with has been wonderful. Thank you Joe (Manning), Cesar (Correa), Roger (Desiderio) and Liz (Fritzen) for all your efforts, and please give my regards to everyone in town hall! I will miss them, and you.

And finally, I want to thank my colleagues on the Maplewood Township Committee – past and present – for bringing your passion, intelligence, sincerity and commitment to doing what is in the best interests of Maplewood as a whole – balancing a myriad of often competing goals, opinions and desires …. in the face of finite hours, resources and dollars.

I have said on occasion that some of my favorite nights as a member of the township committee are those nights when a police officer or fire department member is promoted, and they come here to a township committee meeting to take the oath for their new position. Their peers often come out in support on those nights, so on those nights the meeting room is much more crowded than usual! And as I watch the person come up, oftentimes they’ll ask their spouse and children to come up and join them, and as their family comes up I can see the proud look in their eyes and big smile on their face as they look up to see their hero recognized and applauded as they take the next step in their journey. And when I do, I’m reminded of when that person was before us, by themselves, interviewing with the township committee, just a week or two before that night, and we were faced with the decision of who we were going to promote. And when I think of that, I’m reminded that every decision that we make has a human impact. All of our decisions here matter. Their children don’t know who we are, and ultimately, that doesn’t matter. What matters is – their hero. And so when we make our decision, it ultimately isn’t just about filling a spot on an organization chart – it’s about a person, and that person’s family, and friends…our decisions have a far-reaching human impact.

To whoever ultimately sits up here in my place, it is my hope that you will keep that in mind – that every decision matters. I’ve heard sometimes people ask why we’ve spent so much time discussing a particular issue when, in their mind, there are more important things that we should be talking about. My wife has joked that I’m now an expert on chickens, bees, dogs, and feral cats! But the fact of the matter is that every issue is important to someone. What might seem trivial to one person might be a fundamental quality of life issue for somebody else. What might seem to be the most crucial thing that Maplewood could possibly be dealing with might be irrelevant to somebody else. In both cases, the issue is important to someone. And so I have worked hard to do my best to serve all of the residents of Maplewood by listening, learning, and ultimately making my decisions based on what, to me, seems to be in our collective best interest.

In closing, I want to again say “thank you” for the opportunity to serve this town. And as my wife and I move from Maplewood to begin the next chapter of our lives, know that with sincerity and best regards we wish everyone here all the best, and we hope that you will continue to collectively aspire to be the best Maplewood for all residents that you can be.

Thank you.

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