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Legislatively Speaking
Legislatively Speaking: Elections around the corner

By Alma Graham, CT State Grange Legislative Director

  OCTOBER 5, 2013 --

This November 5th many towns will be holding their local municipal elections for their leaders including Mayors or Selectman.  Most of the municipal elections are very low key with the general public hearing very little about it until the last couple of weeks before the election.  Some towns and cities have already held primaries for their candidates.  The most notable was the City of New Haven where their long time Mayor, John DeStefano, decided to retire and not seek another term.  There still are a multiple of people vying for the right to be the mayoral candidate in New Haven.  

Some believe that local elections are not important and don’t bother voting in their municipal elections.  This really could not be further from the truth.  How important are these elections?  These are the people who will be leading your town.  They oversee the general day to day business in your town.  

The First Selectman or Mayor, if your town has one, oversees the running of the town.  They work with the other departments within the town to determine the town budget and how your tax dollars are used.  They monitor the various committees, commissions and agencies within your town such as your local Highway Department who keep your roads maintained and cleared in the winter.  In some towns the First Selectman or Mayor also monitors the local Police and Fire Departments. 

Town Clerks record and maintain records including deeds, births, deaths, fishing licenses and many other records for your town.  School Boards oversee the running of your schools including the budgets and educational programs for your local schools.  The Assessor’s office maintains maps and oversees the recording and determining the property values of your homes.  Of course you probably are aware of some of what the Tax Collectors do, but remember that they also maintain tax records keeping track of what is due and who has paid.  Your local Zoning officials monitor new developments or changes to existing developments making sure that all town codes are being followed so that all residents have a safe environment to live in and over development does not occur.  All of these people are elected officials.  By your vote you get to decide who to ‘hire’ for these positions.

This is a good opportunity for your Grange to promote awareness of these local elections.  Your Grange can host a ‘Meet the Candidate’s’ program that is open to the public.  Inform the public what offices are up for election, what these offices are and their function in the town.  Ask the candidates why they are running for that particular office. What are their qualifications and what are their plans and goals.  Stress the importance of voting in these elections and how these elected officials affect their local day to day lives and pocketbooks.  Remember that the Grange is non-partisan and cannot endorse any candidate or party.

This year there is a significant change to election laws.   The last legislative session enacted Election Day Registration and it was signed into law by Governor Malloy.  In previous elections you needed to have registered to vote 30 days prior to the elections.  Now if you are not registered to vote in your town you may register on the actual day of the election.  Check with your local towns as to the guidelines and where unregistered voters will need to go to register on that day. 


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