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The Most Important Political Office



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The Most Important Political Office

In looking over the ballot for this year’s local election, we are reminded of a quip by Jay Leno: “If God wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates.”

Newtowners have been given no choice this year in the following elective offices: first selectman, Board of Selectmen, town clerk, Board of Finance, Board of Education, Board of Assessment Appeals, Zoning Board of Appeals, Zoning Board of Appeals Alternate, Police Commission, and Board of Managers of Edmond Town Hall. Aside from a contested alternate position on the Planning and Zoning Commission, the only choice voters will have will be to pick four candidates in their respective Legislative Council Districts.

Clearly, Newtown’s political parties have a lot of work to do to revive the community’s political life, and every citizen, unaffiliated voters included, has to be a part of that work. It is not enough to blame the Republicans and the Democrats for giving us a half-baked ballot on November 8. People have to demand representation, and if there is no one representing their point of view, they need to seriously consider stepping forward themselves.

Having said that, the 2005 election in Newtown is by no means a bust. Nineteen candidates are running for the Legislative Council (see their profiles on page A-8 & 9), and they hold a wide range of views on issues of vital importance to Newtown’s future. If we are to have any contested public offices at all, let us be grateful that they are the Legislative Council District seats.

Under Newtown’s system of government, the Legislative Council is the nexus of virtually every issue of importance affecting our tax bills, our schools, our roads, our public safety, our open spaces, and even the humanity of our town. The council is Newtown’s best political forum, ideally suited for defining the priorities of the town, and by extension its future character. It is a body of 12 citizens, each with ideas and agendas, each with a telephone and an often-vocal constituency with their number. And each must come to the realization, sooner or later, that narrow-mindedness and inflexibility will get them 1/12th of the way to where they want to go. Achieving any of Newtown’s long-term goals requires working together, reconciling differences, and moving to the next set of problems in the same spirit of community.

The success of this process requires the attention next Tuesday of those who occupy what the late great Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called “the most important political office — the private citizen.”

Comments are open. Be civil.

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