Winds of change?
Published 1:01 am, Friday, November 6, 2009
Another election season is about to pass, and despite the fact that Fairfield had no major elections this year, the races turned out to be very interesting. In fact, the only predictable factor was voter turnout, which was a miserable 27.7 percent.
Fairfielders made some big decisions at the polls this year, especially in the town's legislative body. Overwhelmingly the Republicans took over the Representative Town Meeting (RTM), sweeping eight of 10 districts, and taking many by surprise. A traditionally Democratic District 8 ousted all five of its long-time representatives, including moderator Bob Greenberger. The residents there chose this time to be represented by Republicans. Residents of districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 9 and 10 also made that same decision.
The boards and commissions also got a majority of Republican votes. It's a big change for the town.
It might also be worth questioning who actually instigated this change? Informal information provided to the newspaper showed that a large number of voters Tuesday were the town's most consistent ones: its senior citizens.
Fairfield is a huge community comprised largely of burgeoning families. It seems few of them cared to weigh in on issues that would affect them most, particularly potential changes to the town's school system. Issues facing the Board of Education, like expansion and redistricting, have been some the most contentious of the year, so picking the next BOE representatives, one would think, would be a top priority for Fairfield parents.
Regardless of who voted for the changes this year, changes have been made. What does this mean for the future of Fairfield, especially with the next RTM meeting slated for Nov. 23, a little more than two weeks away? We're all eager to find out. Just what are the issues that were the catalysts for this change?
Partisan politics has little significance on such a local level, which is why most towns have a nonpartisan RTM -- what's best for the town shouldn't be subject to party politics, yet so many times it is. Our hunch is that these partisan votes were prompted by town and neighborhood issues lingering in the air -- like the future development of the Turner Army Reserve in District 8 or the third railroad station project that has turned out, some feel, to be a train wreck.
Regardless of what the voters' motives were, it's clear that they want change from the ground up. We're interested in seeing what's in store for the town of Fairfield. We also urge the town's newest politicians to remember that winning the race was the easy part. Your jobs are just beginning. Electing change is not the same as effecting change.
For the current officials and the ones who were asked back this year, we hope that, regardless of political party affiliation, they take heed of the statement voters made this year. We hope new and current town officials have heard the voters' concerns this year -- be it while they were campaigning or just now analyzing the voting results.
It looks like the townspeople are seeking some sort of change -- let's all pay attention to what they want.
For those who wanted to represent the town, but were not chosen, we urge them to continue to stay involved, even if it's just attending meetings and delivering public comments. Participation in town government is crucial to our way of life.