Among the myriad of bills passed in the most recent legislative session in Hartford was one that received little attention because it only impacted a small handful of towns, including Woodbridge. It moves our biennial local elections from May to November effective 2023, but allows our Board of Selectmen to reject the move if it so chooses.
There are several reasons the Woodbridge Republican Town Committee opposes this change in our local election date, none of which are what you might say are “Republican versus Democrat” issues.
First, we need to stand up for ourselves and flex what little muscle we have to control our own destiny as a town. As we saw with the recent zoning challenges that will materially impact Woodbridge by opening up sections to multi-family housing, Hartford is applying a “one-size fits all” approach to as much of our lives as it can reach. Enough. There are a host of reasons why we Woodbridge residents moved here and have stayed; the unique character of the town is usually high on those lists. Our spring election, which at one time was the standard in the state due to the agricultural cycle, is one such unique aspect. No harm in keeping it. This conform, conform, conform mentality coming out of Hartford diminishes Woodbridge.
Second, with all deference to the Woodbridge Town News which covers our local elections very effectively, broader coverage of our elections, if they were held in November, would expectedly dry up in the shadow of New Haven, even Hamden, holding elections at the same time. That’s not good for voters who up to now have received another perspective on our local races through multiple media outlets.
Third, why? Moving from May to November has no financial benefit to Woodbridge. State and federal elections are held in even years. Only local elections are held in odd-number years – May or November makes no difference financially. The work the Registrars of Voters and Town Clerks perform, along with the many per diem workers who run the mechanics of our elections, do not change one lick. Absentee ballots still go out, the gym is set up for in-person voting and all the processes to ensure a fair election are exactly the same. There is zero financial benefit for such a proposed change. At last look Woodbridge has the thirteenth highest mill rate in the state, so if there was a change to bring the cost of government down, as Ross Perot used to say, “I’m all ears.” No savings with this proposal. And as an aside, would you rather stand outside on line at the poll on a typical May day or November day?
Where did this idea come from? According to the legislative record, it came from the Government Administrative and Elections Committee – the body that manages our elections, including setting the official election calendar. It might surprise people to learn that there are literally dozens of milestone dates around each election, dealing with party nominations, caucuses, filing dates, petitions and other process-intensive details, and many rules on how these issues need to be handled. With a few towns having May elections, and the balance of the state having them in November, this requires two election calendars be created to suit the different election dates. Anyone involved in managing a May election will tell you getting the May Election Calendar out of Hartford is like pulling teeth, nowhere near as smooth as issuing the November version. So, their response? Get rid of the May election. It does not reduce costs, as they are at full staff year-round. Eliminating the May election for administrative convenience rewards bad behavior. As state and Woodbridge taxpayers, we should not accept this proposal – and there is a way to do just that.
By a two-thirds vote of our Board of Selectmen, Woodbridge can reject the proposed change of our election date to November. The easiest way to express your view is to email all six of our BOS members and state your desire to keep our local election in May. If enough of us do, and the BOS listens, Woodbridge will be able to retain at least one aspect of our unique town. Here are their addresses: Bheller@woodbridgect.org, Senjoeandpat@yahoo.com, Dalober@aol.com, David.Vogel.email@example.com, Pkuriakose4@gmail.com, SheilaSMcCreven@woodbridgect.org. The wording in the legislation that can keep our election in May is unclear, but it appears our BOS will need to take action on this issue before December 31, 2021, so please email our BOS members right away and push to get this on their agenda in October or November. Just put in the Subject line: Keep our election in May!