Monday, April 27, 2009

Election time....

There's a special City Council election in Norwich tomorrow to fill a vacancy on the council. Next week, there are borough elections being held across the state. It's localelection time, so I thought, for anyone who might have missed it, it would be worthwhile to post a copy of my column from yesterday's Norwich Bulletin.

I've discussed this particular issue in the past, but it’s worth repeating this morning.

Question: When was the last time the President of the United States wanted to rezone property in your neighborhood for a commercial development?

Or ordered the extension of a sewer line down your street — and you get the bill whether you wanted it or not?

Or decided to eliminate three police officer positions while at the same time approving the construction of a new $30 million police headquarters — that you’ll pay for over the next 20 years?

Answer: Never.

That’s because those are local issues decided by local government. And yet, every four years 80 percent of the registered voters in our communities vote in presidential elections while every two years we’re lucky to see 30 percent turnout for municipal elections. And it’s those municipal contests that have the most immediate impact on our lives.

There’s a special election being held in Norwich Tuesday to fill a vacancy on the Norwich City Council. The expectation is that maybe 10 percent of the city’s registered voters will participate — if we’re lucky. At a candidates forum Wednesday night, only 15 residents came to hear what the two candidates had to say.

This special election is not attracting a lot of interest or generating much excitement. Part of the reason for that are the two candidates themselves.

To put it bluntly, neither is a ball of fire.

If they were interviewing for a job as a motivational speaker, neither would be hired. I do applaud their willingness to serve, but I have to admit, at the candidates’ forum Wednesday there wasn’t a moment where I suddenly had any urge to leap to my feet and applaud.

But that’s not the point, and it certainly isn’t a reason not to be concerned or ignore the contest.
Because they’re not interviewing for a job to be a motivation speaker.

What they hope to claim Tuesday is the position of local policy maker. They want to have the authority to decide what neighborhood will be rezoned to allow commercial development, what streets will get that new sewer line and whether it’s three police officers or three teachers who will be laid off next year.
They want to be part of that very select group of seven whose every decision potentially affects your life.

And one of them will win that right on Tuesday. The question is, which one?

Anyone who has read this column in the past is already aware of my feelings towards giving voters a choice at election time. Too often, voters have no choice. Two years ago in the city’s municipal election, nine candidates ran for the Board of Education. None of them could lose. Each one was guaranteed victory. It was the same situation two years earlier. Your vote didn’t count.

Four years ago, two Republicans ran for City Council. They couldn’t lose. Their election was guaranteed. It didn’t matter what you thought.

That’s not the case this time. There is a choice.

On Tuesday, one will win and join the City Council — and one will not.

The choice of who wins is a decision to be made by Norwich voters. The question is, are you going to make it, or will you be satisfied to let someone else make it for you?

3 Comments:

Blogger dweeb said...

Ray,

Based on a turnout of less than 900out of slightly more than 20,000 registered voters, it bothers me to have to concede that an awful LOT of us didn't seem to mind someone else making the decision.

Polls opened at 6 AM and closed at 8 PM and in 14 hours less than 900 of us made it in to vote.

Of course, the week before at the candidates' forum, only fourteen people could get to that (and two in the audience were high schoolers who aren't old enough to vote in the first place).

Don't know how to fix what's broken in so many aspects of our democratic process but if politics is a game, can't we agree that you must be present to win?

9:21 PM  
Blogger mccommas said...

You got me Mr. Hackett.

Windham's taxes go up every single year. Even election years!

Even this year the Democrats and RINOs sneeked past a small increase that amounts a couple extra days of pay going to town hall.

They squander our money and no one cares but us cranky conservatives.

It wasn't even close 2-1.

1:22 PM  
Blogger mccommas said...

I meant the referendum on the budget if I didn't make that clear.

1:23 PM  

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