Editorial: The more the merrier

All too often we get into a groove and forget there is more than one way of doing things.

This appears to have happened with minority representation of political parties on our town boards, commissions, committees, etc. We have gotten into the habit of most often filling town volunteer vacancies with citizens of the same political party as those who are being replaced. But it does not have to be that way, nor should it.

After the November election, many who took office admitted there should be more openness — transparency was a word used most often — when it comes to town activities and communication.

Volunteer service to the town is a key area where these efforts could be brought to bear. Those appointed should be chosen on the basis of who is the best person for the position, not political affiliation.

Minority parties are protected in Connecticut through caps on the number of people from one party who may serve on a particular town body.

Most often, replacements on town bodies are recommended by Wilton’s Republican and Democratic town committees. Both have stated preferences for members of their respective parties. While Republicans outnumber Democrats — making Democrats the minority party — the number of unaffiliated voters surpasses either party. A tiny percentage belong to minor parties, such as the Green or Libertarian, but they are citizens, too, and should be just as welcome to serve their town.

The Planning and Zoning Commission has raised the issue of codifying who may serve, and that could be a matter for discussion. But that is not a speedy process, particularly if changes to the town charter are considered.

A simpler way would take the information well beyond the political circle. Just as it has taken to moving town meetings front and center on the town website — wiltonct.org — the first selectman’s office should reserve a spot on the home page for current vacancies and information on how people may volunteer, including deadlines for applications.

There is no Republican or Democratic way to enforce Wilton’s land-use policies, maintain its parks or see to its social services needs. It’s difficult enough to find people able and willing to serve. We should not make political affiliation a further restriction to the foundation of our democracy.