Shelton Charter Commission against mandated minority rep on aldermen

Shelton City Hall.

Shelton City Hall.

Contributed photo

SHELTON — The Charter Revision Commission does not favor mandating minority representation on the Board of Aldermen.

The commission, in its remote meeting April 20, was still debating whether to increase the number of wards, which would require redistricting and increase the board to 10 members. But the idea of requiring minority representation for the board in the charter was discarded.

The Board of Aldermen has eight members, all Republican.

“If it is not broke, don’t fix it,” said commission member Ruth Parkins on the issue of minority representation.

Commission Chair Dan Debicella said the Board of Aldermen has had eight members since the now 40,000 person city had only 10,000 residents, so he could understand why people would suggest increasing the membership. But he also said that history shows that larger boards can become problematic with less being accomplished.

“The current system works well because the people have spoken,” said John Anglace Jr., the longtime Board of Aldermen president, in written testimony offered as a private citizen.

“This is a plea for a seat at the table which the minority party did not win,” added Anglace. “The right of the people to select representatives of their choosing should not be infringed. What the minority party puts forward as debate is simply political disagreement and divisiveness reminiscent of what is going on in Washington.”

The Charter Revision Commission, comprised of four Republicans, two unaffiliateds and one Democrat, will hold its next workshop at 7 p.m. tonight to further debate which ideas are worthy of consideration. To view the meeting, visit SheltonCharter2020 on YouTube.

Debicella said the goal is to vote on specific changes to charter language, then hold a second public hearing on the proposed revisions next month.

The final approval of the revised charter will be sent to the Board of Aldermen by July 30. This, said Debicella, offers enough time for the aldermen to hold their own mandated public hearing and vote before the secretary of the state deadline of Sept. 3 for proposed charter revisions to make the November 2020 ballot.

“Shelton voters will have the final say,” said Debicella.

The commission also agreed to push for a seven-member Planning and Zoning Commission, eliminating alternates.

The commission also rejected expanding the Board of Education to 12 members with three elected by ward. Members will continue to debate any increase to a political party maximum from five — the present number — to six. The Board of Education presently has five Republicans and four Democrats.