Letter: DTC chair urges no vote on charter revisions
To the Editor:
I had originally planned to write in opposition to the change in the makeup of the Board of Education, however, the op-ed by the Charter Revision Commission chair and the comments by the chair of the Republican Town Committee demands a response.
Let’s be clear — this was not a bipartisan commission. There were four Republicans, as expected, and three “non-Republicans” appointed by the mayor for the commission. One of those “non-Republicans” was a registered Republican one week before the person was named to the commission. A second “non-Republican” member of the commission donated to the mayor’s run for governor. Regardless of the makeup of the commission, the mayor ensured that all members supported him, his goals and his agenda.
Now for the Board of Education: I served four years (2015-2019) on the Board of Education. During that time, we voted hundreds of times and the vast majorities were unanimous. We all understood that we had an obligation to do what was best for the children we were responsible for educating. There were several occasions where the vote was 5-4. However, those votes were bipartisan. Those votes were not along party lines but based on real differences of opinion as to how a problem or issue should be addressed. We all understood that compromise was the key to getting positive things accomplished.
The Charter Revision Commission chair stated: “We also increase voter choice on the Board of Education and Planning and Zoning Commission. For example, normally voters choose nine out of 10 candidates for the Board of Education — not a lot of a choice. The new charter increases the number of seats a party can win to six, which means that the parties will run six candidates each. Now voters can choose nine of 12 candidates and have more options from which to choose.” This is not true. Currently each party can run nine candidates while five can be elected. Thus, a voter choice is reduced from 18 to 12.
The current board is often divided along party lines. It is clear that finance is the most important item to the current board, not quality education. While finances are important and must factor into any decision, in the end, the BOE must make the case as to what is best for the children of Shelton. Those recommendations must be made for the children of Shelton. While the city may say no because of cost, the BOE has a moral obligation to recommend what is best for students. The change proposed for the BOE will go from 5-4 majority to 6-3 strictly along party lines. This means that the controlling party will be able to do or undo whatever the mayor wants. Policy additions or changes require a 2/3 positive vote. If a change is really good for education, the vote should be 9-0 but if it is not, the vote will fall along party lines. This change to the charter alone is reason enough to vote no on the charter, but added to it the other changes that will further reduce the public input in how our city is run makes the changes to the charter unacceptable. Please vote no.
Shelton Democratic Town Committee