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Library Plans To Stir Up Discussions Ahead Of 2020 Election

Library Plans To Stir Up Discussions Ahead Of 2020 Election

The 2019 municipal elections are barely a week old, but one place in Cheshire is already thinking about next year’s campaign.

The Cheshire Public Library is hoping to live up to its reputation as a vital source of information and hub of discussion as it prepares for what promises to be another heated Presidential election year. Recently, the Library has been garnering community feedback through its 2020 Election Sruvey, hoping to get a better sense of what issues are most on the minds of local voters.

When all of the information has been tabulated, the Library hopes to host different politically-minded functions throughout 2020, including panels dedicated to discussing specific issues of concern. 

“We want to provide the town with a safe space to have a public discussion,” said CPL’s Deputy Director Deborah Rutter. “We are planning on having conversations on various topics. The topics will be the ones that the public tells us are the most pressing for them.”

The goal, Rutter explained, is to “increase civic literacy, encourage thoughtful participation in the voting process, and to allow participants the opportunity to hear different viewpoints in a civil community forum”

For Rutter, the response she has received since posting the survey at the beginning of the month has been overwhelming. “We’ve had over 300 responses already,” she said. “So far, the top categories have been gun control, climate change, and health care, but we also have a space in the survey where people can add their own topics that are important to them. We’ve had over 80 people add topics (such as) women’s rights and foriegn policy.”

The plan, Rutter stated, is for the Library, as early as next month, to begin reaching out to experts in particular fields of interest who may be interested in participating in a panel. The issues chosen will be the top three identified by the survey.

Rutter then hopes to hold these “civic conversations,'' as she has named them, before the 2020 presidential election, potentially sometime in the summer. The public would be invited to submit questions prior to these events being held.

“Hopefully, we will generate some debate among the panelists and discussion among the public.” Rutter mentioned.

Rutter is trying to tap into a much larger, systemic issue that she believes has been plaguing recent elections — the uninformed, biased voter. 

“We desperately need to listen and understand other viewpoints,” said Rutter “Too many people just get one viewpoint from their social media or television stations and that’s it. The people deserve to know what the issues are, how they affect them, and what they can do about it.”

Those interested in participating in the Election 2020 Topics Survey can submit responses by visiting http://bit.ly/2NGXXRJ2020Survey. Responses will be accepted until Nov. 18. Those with questions regarding the survey itself or about being a panelist can contact Deb Rutter at drutter@cheshirelibrary.org.


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