Editorial: Changes

Ted Hoffstatter’s forthcoming resignation from the Board of Selectmen is the third non-elected change on a major Wilton board in less than a year.

In June, John Kalamarides replaced Jim Meinhold on the Board of Finance.

Last month, Michael Kaelin took over Hal Clark’s seat on the Board of Selectmen.

And after Monday, Mr. Hoffstatter’s seat will be vacant.

If you add Mike Rudolph’s resignation last month as chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals, that makes four stalwart Wilton volunteers lost in quick succession. The reasons vary. Three men moved out of town. The demands on Mr. Hoffstatter’s time became too great.

While change of leadership is good for a democracy, too much change is not.

In 2009, Wilton citizens voted to extend the Board of Selectmen terms to four years while also staggering them so the entire board would not be up for re-election at once. The offices are also term-limited. Extending the terms offers continuity, while term limits prevent anyone from dominating a position.

In addition, those serving on Wilton’s boards and commissions — except for the first selectman — receive no compensation.

Wilton has scores of these volunteer positions to fill and it is not an easy job.

Two of the most frequent writers of letters to the editor are the nominating chairs for both the Wilton Democratic and Republican Town committees. This week, each has a letter outlining a need for candidates.

All too frequently, the community sees a recycling of people who sit on these boards because too few people respond to the call to serve.

It is understandable. It is a time-consuming commitment, particularly for the land-use boards as well as the finance and education boards and board of selectmen. But this is the bedrock of our democracy and affords us the opportunity — as well as the responsibility — to govern ourselves.

Comments on The Bulletin’s website, on the story about Mr. Hoffstatter’s impending departure, make a very important point. There has been much discontent about spending and other decisions in Wilton over the last few years, but very few people, it seems, are willing to step forward and take an active role. Few are willing to challenge the status quo. In the 2013 municipal election, there was not one contested seat.

If you are giving thought to serving in some way, you do not have to jump in at the deep end. But without a deep bench on both sides of the political divide, seats will eventually go unfilled and veteran volunteers will burn out.

And that will serve no one.