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The Record: Gadfly ,Annoying and needed


The Record: Gadfly,Annoying and needed

THE DEFINITION of a gadfly is not very appealing. It literally describes a variety of fly that bites or annoys livestock. In the political realm, the dictionary definition of gadfly is “a persistent, irritating critic; a nuisance.”.

There are doubtless many local elected officials who would agree with the unflattering descriptions of gadflies. But that is too dismissive.

The term may not sound endearing, but political gadflies are vital to democracy. As described in a recent story by Record Staff Writer Chris Harris, gadflies are typically the man or woman who comes to virtually every town council or school board meeting. At times, they’re the only ones in the audience.

When the public portion of the meeting begins, they just about always command the floor. They may ask about a resolution on the agenda, question the mayor about an ongoing issue or bring up a problem around town that needs the governing body’s attention.

What makes gadflies valuable, and at times annoying to public officials, is that their regular presence at meetings makes them well equipped to comment on any number of issues. They are most likely to understand the ins and outs of governing, knowing, for instance, the difference between a resolution and an ordinance and which council member heads the public works committee. That puts them in a good position to point out the council’s shortcomings.

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