Editorial: Don't stand by

We live in a democracy. Essentially, we enjoy self-rule by regularly electing fellow citizens to guide our country, our state and our town to peaceful and prosperous times.
The bedrock of our democracy lies not in Washington, nor in Hartford, but within our own communities — in our right to assemble and exchange ideas and in our right to voice our thoughts and opinions.
But to truly enjoy living in a democracy we must be active participants. We must steer our own ship.
We must take an active interest in issues of consequence that affect us all.
We must vote.
We must serve.
Our community could do better all counts. Rare is the public hearing that brings out more than a few concerned persons.
The turnout for voting — except when state or national seats are at stake — is often poor. But that is not always the fault of the electorate. There is little incentive to vote when elections are uncontested.
Which brings us to the third point. We must serve.
There’s been a lot of talk — much of it heated — about some issues in town. Allegations, suspicions and worse have been voiced. What has not been heard is anyone stepping forward to offer solutions by serving the town on any of its governing boards, committees or commissions.
Five months from now — Nov. 3 to be precise — there will be a municipal election. Citizens will vote for:

  • First selectman;

  • Two selectmen;

  • Three Board of Finance members;

  • Three Board of Education members;

  • Two members of the Board of Assessment Appeals;

  • Four Planning & Zoning commissioners;

  • Six Zoning Board of Appeals members (four full members, two alternates);

  • Five constables.

If you don’t like the way the town is run, volunteer for one of the major boards. If you are unhappy with the school budget, run for the Board of Education.
The Democratic and Republican town committees are in the process of vetting candidates. If you volunteer to run and are not selected, you can enter a primary and let voters choose.
If you run and lose, you have still performed a public service by presenting ideas and opening avenues of discussion.
Electors then must cast their ballots to have their voices heard.
If serving in government is not for you, there are many other valuable ways to serve our town. Each week The Bulletin offers stories of people who serve in many ways — through the ambulance corps, Community Emergency Response Team, Kiwanis, Rotary and more.
Those who sit on the sidelines, who do not help out in some tangible way, who do not vote, marginalize themselves. Their opinions, no matter how loudly voiced, risk being unconvincing.