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Letter: RTM reps must know 'weeds'

Published 11:00 am, Friday, December 6, 2013
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Nov. 26 was my first meeting as a new representative on Fairfield's Representative Town Meeting. The RTM elected Mary McCullough (R-District 3) as moderator, the first ever female to hold that position. It was exciting to be present for this historic event.

As I looked around the room, I was struck by the number of people who were so enthusiastically representing the residents of their districts. Fairfield, like many large towns, is an amalgamation of many neighborhoods. While our neighborhoods have much in common with each other, each has many distinct characteristics and issues requiring special attention.

To me, one of the most interesting segments of the meeting was when Carol Way (R-District 5) stood up and called out, in some detail, certain areas of blight along the stretch of Kings Highway north of the Connecticut Turnpike. She had clearly walked that stretch of road many times and was able to cite specific problem areas, including one with overgrown weeds. As Ms. Way was speaking, I recalled last year's debate about whether to maintain 10 voting districts or reduce the number to 8 larger ones. Ms. Way's discussion was a good reminder that, while Fairfielders from all neighborhoods have many common concerns, such as taxes and education, many of the things we care about are "right in our backyard"-- specific broken sidewalks, blighted homes or vacant office buildings and unsafe intersections.

I continue to believe that expanding the size of districts (and reducing the number) would dilute representatives' understanding of the issues facing all the neighborhoods they are supposed to represent, would ultimately lead to less accessibility to representatives for all the residents of a district, and would therefore be a disservice to all Fairfielders. I sincerely hope that, as redistricting efforts commence this coming year, the proposal to reduce the number of districts is not put on the table. Let us make sure we continue to have representatives who can get into "the weeds" in their districts.

Bill Gerber

RTM, District 4