To the editor,
Thomas Jefferson is attributed with saying, “The government you elect is the government you deserve,” and I couldn’t agree more. Conservatives believe that those that work in government do not perform as well as the private sector, where they are motivated by profit. When it comes to getting things done in small towns like Beacon Falls, I tend to agree. Elected officials can either choose to run things as they always have, which is very easy, or try to change for the better, which requires effort. In my involvement in town government for around eight years, I can tell people a few are working hard to improve things, especially the budget.
The idea of party loyalty in town politics is ridiculous as the elected roles are entirely administrative. They have no control over any of those thorny issues debated on Fox News and MSNBC. The two parties are simply rival gangs: Yankees-Mets, Jets-Pats, Kanye-Swift. We need people who know how to spend the town’s money wisely, run an organization, and make smart decisions. Beacon Falls hovers around 50 percent independent registration, and yet the only options we have for candidates are those offered by very few handpicked from each party, most either unqualified or unwilling to do the work. First Selectman Christopher Bielik, despite strong opposition from the Board of Finance, went ahead with the solar array that took away the brush dump. He and the Planning and Zoning Commission ignored the Board of Finance, no pressure was put on them from the public, and he was still re-elected comfortably. In fairness, the candidate on the other side was no more qualified than him.
The parties own the mechanisms for election and are controlled by a few people who maintain that though low participation in the process. They’re clubs. They have no interest in principles, only the “prestige” they think they get from being in power, even for a small town like Beacon Falls. Some even think they are entitled to office because of their last name.
I am not the first person to complain that the system isn’t working. The country has been realizing that for the last 30 years. But the problems of the nation do not have to be Beacon Falls’ problems. People have been elected solely because of their political affiliation, which has led to some embarrassingly unqualified people holding important office, costing the town tens of thousands of dollars. We need to decouple party alignment from town politics and simply seek out and elect qualified candidates. Otherwise residents can get out their wallets, because taxes will never come down again without someone who can think strategically in a time when the town needs it most. Someone who can avoid the death spiral we are in: high taxes, low growth, higher taxes. There is no one in a leadership position today that can do this.
Business thrives on collaboration. Politicians protecting ego and power in two-year cycles reject it in all forms. They snipe like children in public meetings.
On Sept. 27 I filed to leave the Democratic party and become an independent. This does not reflect a change in my principles, just my unwillingness to work with the local parties.
If we don’t get more independent voices and volunteers the hopes for an efficiently-run government are doomed. The decisions will be left to the very few that have demonstrated they don’t deserve that trust. We can raise the issues and make them public, but it’s up to the citizens to put on the pressure, and right now there seems to be no interest in doing so, as evidenced by voter turnout in meetings and elections. It is easier to be indignant on NextDoor than town hall, where it matters.
It is what we deserve, along with the inevitable increase in taxes and opportunity costs that result.