A community is what the people make of it.
That remains as true now as it was when villages and towns began to pop up all across the landscape of Connecticut. It’s the citizens, not the buildings or roads or borders, that give a place its character.
And that’s why everyone in Cheshire should be thankful that there are still those within the community willing to step up and serve in local government, for no other reason than to help the town move towards a more prosperous future.
Members of the Town Council, Board of Education, and all other committees and commissions are volunteers. They are men and women with families, careers, and responsibilities. They receive no paycheck, no compensation, and whatever accolades and “good job” acknowledgements they may get from time to time are usually outweighed by the concerns or complaints they hear.
This isn’t to say that such volunteerism inoculates one from critique or criticism. Those serving on boards and commissions should have their actions and their votes scrutinized, and candidates running for election should be required to explain, in detail, their vision for the municipality.
Voters should review the backgrounds and opinions of each candidate to determine who represents their values the best.
But disagreement should always be laced with thankfulness. Residents should admire anyone willing to volunteer for the job of solving Cheshire’s problems, even if they ultimately disagree with the solutions being offered. Take away those running for election and where would the community be?
Both political parties have admitted to having difficulty finding willing candidates over the last few election cycles. There are only two At-Large candidates running for Town Council on the Democratic side of the aisle this year, and when Eric Brushett decided to end his campaign for the Fourth District Council seat, Republicans didn’t nominate anyone to take his place.
People are busy. Their schedules are jam-packed with activities and events to attend. Those with children are usually running from work to school to some extracurricular activity all throughout the week.
It’s becoming harder and harder to find residents willing to not only attend a few monthly meetings, but also commit to serving on committees, pore over budget books, and answer questions from constituents.
That’s an ominous sign for the future, but it also makes this year’s crop of new candidates so important.
Whether they win or lose, it will be vital for those involved in 2019 to stay active in 2020 and beyond. They will likely become the new faces of local politics — the ones expected to not only replace the “old guard,” but also recruit fellow residents into the fold.
You can’t drive municipal government if no one is willing to take the wheel.
So, yes, residents are entitled to their preferences. No candidate is owed a vote.
What each and everyone one of them is owed, however, is the community’s thanks.