Some people will start to pay attention to a local election after Labor Day. Some people will start around Columbus Day. Some people will wait until Halloween. Some people will remember that there was an election after it’s over. And some people will never think about it at all.
There’s an old joke that only 50% of us vote but 100% of us complain between elections. Neither of those numbers would stand up to scrutiny, of course. The number of people who vote is much less than 50%. And it isn’t likely that 100% of us will complain. Some of us won’t be paying attention, not even enough attention for that. Like a lot of old jokes, that one has a basis in truth. And, like a lot of old jokes, it isn’t funny.
We’ll hold an election for town officials in November. That may seem a long way off, but there are a lot of things that will happen between now and then. We’ll have public hearings on budget proposals, a town meeting, and a budget referendum. Political parties will hold caucuses and nominate candidates. Other candidates may organize campaigns to get on the ballot through petitions. Some of our neighbors will hold informal get-togethers and invite us to meet the candidates they support. Some of our neighbors will write letters to the editor to support a candidate or a candidate’s position, to introduce an idea to make things better, or to suggest an approach to solving a problem. Debates and candidate forums will be arranged. We’ll have opportunities to get involved. We’ll have opportunities to make informed choices.
The time to get involved is now. You can learn about the members of the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance, the Board of Education, the Planning and Zoning Commission, and other boards by attending their meetings, watching the televised versions, reading the minutes on the town’s website, or reading the newspaper. You can learn about the issues, the proposals, the trade-offs, and the compromises.
Don’t wait until the decisions have been made and the candidates have been chosen. Learn about the process. Help to recruit candidates. Help to choose the nominees. Raise issues. Make suggestions. Consider running for office. Support the candidates you agree with. Oppose the ones you disagree with.
Being a responsible citizen isn’t something we can show up for once every four years when there’s a presidential election. All elections are important. They have consequences. The results will affect us every day.
A lot of us want to change the world. The world needs changing, of course, now more than ever. Changing it will be hard work. We can’t wait until the presidential election in 2020 to start. And we can’t just leave it up to someone else. It’s up to us. We’re in this together.
Change the world. Start here. Start now.
The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides this column.