The Election of 2017

In Stories by Tom Madden

There’s an election this year.  You may not have recovered from the last one, and you may be looking forward with anticipation or dread to 2018 or even to 2020.  You may not think local elections are important, but they are.  The results affect our lives every day.

Ridgefield, like many towns in Connecticut, has a Town Meeting form of government.  We meet once a year, usually in May, to discuss issues, to argue about them, and to vote.  Some things are decided then and there.  Other, larger issues are decided at the budget referendum soon after that.  Other matters that come up during the year are decided at Town Meetings that are called to deal with them.  We get to vote then too.  And we get to vote for the people who handle the day-to-day business of the town.  It’s hands-on, participatory democracy.  No one has ever come up with a better system.

Approximately half of the members of each board and commission in the town government will be elected in November and serve from 2017 to 2021.  Others were elected in 2015 and will serve until 2019.  Terms are generally four years long, but we have a chance to choose new members and to affect the make-up of most boards and commissions every two years.  Vacancies between elections are filled by people who are chosen by the other members, often, but not necessarily, with the endorsement of party committees.  People who are appointed have to face the voters at the next municipal election.  This sometimes results in an election for a two-year term in order to put things back on schedule.

None of the members of the Board of Selectmen will be elected this year.  All five of them are in the middle of four-year terms.  But we’ll be choosing three members of the Board of Finance, two for four-year terms and one for a two-year term.  We’ll be choosing six members of the Board of Education, four for four-year terms and two for two year terms.  We’ll be choosing six members of the Planning and Zoning Commission, five for four-year terms and one for a two-year term.  And we’ll be choosing members of the Board of Assessment Appeals, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Police Commission.

The time period when party caucuses are held and the deadlines for filing the results are determined by Connecticut’s Secretary of the State.  Our caucus will be held in Town Hall on July 24.  It’s open to all Ridgefield residents who are registered Democrats.  The Democratic Town Committee may endorse candidates at that time, and nominations can be made from the floor.

You have time to get involved and to learn about the process.  You have time to find candidates you want to support.  You can even decide to be a candidate.  Start now.  We’ll help.  You can find us at ridgefielddems.org.

The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides this column.