Unidentified man at West Hartford Board of Education meeting in Sept. 2021.

Incivility. It happened with enough frequency at local board meetings across Connecticut that the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities stepped in to say “enough.” In early November, 92 municipal leaders from nearly 60 towns and cities across the state signed CCM’s newly-established Civility Pledge, vowing to do their part to help foster respectful, civil engagement in their community and throughout Connecticut.

The idea for the pledge is not exactly new. Several municipal organizations across the country have adopted the idea following public debate over how to handle the pandemic and education.

In Connecticut in Sept. 2021, a man who refused to wear a mask and was speaking against a mask mandate for West Hartford schools was asked to leave a meeting. That same month a Brookfield Board of Education meeting ended when its meeting was interrupted by a woman speaking out against vaccine and mask mandates. In that case police were called.

Earlier this year a planning and development meeting in Danbury erupted with frustration from a crowd of around 200 residents opposed to construction of a 196,000-square-foot warehouse.

In 2019, Harwinton First Selectman Michael Criss had a small transient ischemic attack, also known as a mini-stroke, following a heated conversation with a representative of a local union in his office.

“CCM has a commitment to fostering a climate of open discussion and debate, mutual respect, and tolerance between all who live in, work in, and visit our community,” Joe DeLong, CCM executive director and CEO, said.  “We believe all interactions in CCM’s 168 member communities should be civil despite any differences of opinion on a particular issue.

“And we believe in finding common ground and engaging in civil discussion about community issues important to each of us,” DeLong added. “We vow to respect all points of view and will strive to provide a reasonable opportunity for all to express their views openly—without attacks and antagonization.”

Click here to read a list of the cities and towns in Connecticut who have taken the pledge.