|NOVEMBER 2009 --
Most towns in Connecticut held their municipal elections November 3 and the newly elected officials will soon be sworn into office. Many of these officials will not receive any pay for their work and others will receive a small sum of money that is more of an honorarium rather than anything approaching reasonable compensation for their time.
Some of the newly elected officials see their new positions as stepping stones to higher offices in the future, but for now they are volunteering their time for the good of their town.
Certainly there will be differences of opinion as to what is best for each town and there will be situations where everyone agrees on what should be done, but there will be differences of opinion as to which are the higher priorities and how much the town can afford to do in any one year. Still, everyone is interested in improving their town. Much time and expertise in many different fields will be needed to research the various problems the towns will face in the coming year. The Board of Selectmen or the Town Council cannot do it all by themselves. They will need the help of volunteers to serve on the various boards and commissions that will address in detail the issues their towns are facing. The immediate question facing most Boards of Selectman and Town Councils is who will be willing to fill the many vacancies on the boards and commissions in their town. There are similarities here to our Granges at all levels.
Anyone who has ever served as Master can tell you of their problems finding members willing to serve on the committees in their Grange. They can also tell you that how much any committee accomplished depended on how much interest and commitment the committee members had to their work. If they had the interest and commitment, they could always find the time to do the job. The same thing happens when the Board of Selectmen or the Town Council is filling vacancies on their local boards and commissions. If the people appointed have the interest and commitment, the board or commission will do a good job and the town will be better off for their efforts. If the appointees accept the positions without commitment, the board or commission will accomplish very little.
Most of us have thought that our town should do something about some issue, or criticized how something was or was not done. But did you do anything about the issue? Did you volunteer your time and expertise to help solve the problem? Have you ever served on a local board or commission? Much of our work in the Grange is based on improving our communities. We can always accomplish more when working together with like minded people than any of us can working alone. Let your elected officials know you are interested in a particular area or have the expertise and skills to help solve various problems in areas that interest you. Don't worry about political affiliations. In many towns the boards and commissions are appointed so that there will be representation from both major parties along with the unaffiliated voters. Your local officials are looking for people who can do the job, regardless of their political party. Our ritual admonishes us that, "There is work for all, and the idler has no place among Patrons of Husbandry." Then, when something good has been accomplished in your town, take pride in saying, "I helped get that project done."