Fellow Irrigators and Interested Members of the Public:
The signors of this letter are all the commissioners of the Flathead Joint Board of Control of the Flathead, Mission, and Jocko Valley Irrigation Districts. If you have been following the news about the Flathead Compact and the FJBC Referendum at all, you know we have sharp disagreements about the best way to proceed in regard to water rights for irrigators.
However, we are unanimous in our strong desire that this debate concerning the FJBC Referendum be conducted in a neighborly way, with respect for each other as people and as citizens with rights to express their views, to participate, and to vote as they see fit. We are also unanimous in our strong belief that no one should suffer intimidation, incivility, or damage to their property because of the views they express.
We send this letter because it has been reported that some people have suffered vandalism and other forms of intimidation because of their publicly expressed views and others, we have been told, have been directly threatened with retribution if they do not vote a particular way.
We all have the right to express our views freely, and it is absolutely not fair, or condoned, or even tolerable for someone to suffer intimidation because they have done so.
All of the commissioners of the three Irrigation Districts and the FJBC condemn such behavior. Please do not let the passions of the debate, whether out of your certainty about your opinions or for any other reason drive you to such behavior. Also, please do not let such uncivil behavior control you. We believe, unanimously, that the people who would sink to such behavior are a very small and desperate minority.
We are all water users. Most of us are irrigators. We are all neighbors.
We unanimously urge you to conduct yourselves in a neighborly way, respecting the rights and property of everyone. And please exercise your right to vote.
Note: Chairman Boone Cole was unavailable for signature. The twelfth commissioner, Jerry Johnson refused to sign it.