Every election is an opportunity to learn something about voters, and not just their choice of candidates. This year we saw the downside of early voting. Not mail-in voting, mind you, but voting so early that important information that comes late in the campaign season cannot be acted upon with an informed vote, and the result can spell real trouble. Such is the case in Woodbridge with the 2020 election.
An issue we are going to hear a lot about over the next months is the threat to our zoning laws. As was discussed at some length in this column last time, our 1.5-acre, single family zoning is being characterized by a team of non-resident troublemakers as, basically, racist. Their cure, which they seek to implement through the courts if we don’t bow to their threats, is to blow up our zoning regulations and our local control thereof. Now, the situation could be characterized in softer terms, but the net is Woodbridge’s zoning regulations, the foundation of the quality of life in our town, are under serious threat. How does this relate to the 2020 election? Simple. Before over 1,700 voters in Woodbridge knew where the two State Senate candidates stood on this critical issue, their votes were cast.
A mailer outlining the positions of Sen. George Logan and then-candidate Jorge Cabrera on the issue of local zoning control hit Woodbridge mailboxes on or about October 27 – a week before Election Day. This was done to inform Woodbridge voters that the Democrat majority in the state legislature supports stripping Connecticut towns of local zoning control. If the state legislature has its way, we lose zoning control. You can’t have an issue more local than this. Logan is on record, having voted in support of Governor Malloy’s effort to veto a bill that weakened local zoning control. Cabrera is on record as wanting to “redraw the map” when it comes to expanding high density housing into the suburbs. Clearly, Sen. Logan looked to protect Woodbridge zoning and Mr. Cabrera has vastly different ideas.
By October 27, the day that mailer hit, 991 Democrat, 535 Unaffiliated and 207 Republican Woodbridge voters in the 17th Senatorial District had already voted. This is a matter of public record. Now, these are secret ballots, so we don’t know how any individual voted, but Cabrera carried the Woodbridge mail-in voting 1,553 to 616. Looking at the lopsided numbers in registration and by how much Biden carried the town, it’s reasonable to say many of these votes were “straight ticket,” with the Unaffiliated votes somewhat split. Taking it a step further and to be perfectly candid, an anti-Trump motivation created a lot of straight ticket Democrat votes, with Mr. Cabrera being the beneficiary. The same Mr. Cabrera who wants to “redraw” our map. We did not do ourselves any favors, as a town, by this straight ticket vote. Unless, of course, you want our zoning control to be gutted.
The in-person voting in this race further supports the point. Sen. Logan actually beat Mr. Cabrera by nearly 400 votes cast on Election Day – and all those votes could not have come exclusively from Republicans – there just are not that many – so something had tipped the scales for these voters. The new information contained in that October 27 mailer was most likely that “something.”
The point is if you are going to vote by mail-in ballot, do it at the last minute. Casting your vote early takes away the option to change your mind if new and important information comes your way late in a campaign, which is not uncommon. While a more dramatic swing in Woodbridge votes would not have changed the outcome of the 2020 State Senate election in the 17th, when we vote next in May, it could have a profound impact. Keep your options open. Vote by mail at the 11th hour.
By Chuck Pyne – Chairman WRTC