Editorial: Keep Local Politics Non-Partisan

Editorial: Keep Local Politics Non-Partisan

Election Day is just 19 days away.

The candidates are posting on social media, introducing themselves to the voters, and erecting their signs all across town. From now through Nov. 2, the campaign for local government seats will heat up.

This year, there will be new faces joining both the Town Council and the Board of Education, at minimum. With three seats up for grabs on the BOE and only two incumbents running, a fresh face is guaranteed to join the group for the next term. The same goes for the Town Council who will have to replace current Chair Rob Oris, as he is not seeking re-election.

If there is greater upheaval in the works for either one of those two groups, or for any other commission in town, it will be the voters who decide how big the shakeup will be.

We have, from now through Nov. 2, plenty of time to digest what the candidates offer. Each one comes with their own priorities and concerns. Each is looking to make a mark on Cheshire’s future. 

But for now, we just offer this simple piece of advice: Whoever prevails three weeks from now, they should look to put their party politics and affiliations aside and work with their fellow councilors, board members, or commissioners to do what’s best, and what’s possible, for Cheshire.

At the moment, there seems to be less politically-charged acrimony amongst local elected officials than was the case in the recent past. Attending a meeting of the Town Council 10 or 15 years ago, it would have been easy to determine which members belonged to different political parties. Now, given how often there is across-the-board agreement on issues, one would be hard-pressed to say, with much certainty, who is or isn’t a Republican or Democrat.

That, in local politics, is the way it should be.

State issues lend themselves to partisan squabbles, as do the obvious ambitions of many who begin a career in politics at that level. Seeking to make a name for oneself can often lead to more, not less, disagreement. And it’s obvious that national politics, where the most contentious arguments are usually found, has descended into confrontation over almost every single issue imaginable, to the point where little appears capable of getting done.

But in local politics, the environment is, or at least should be, different. Such partisan squabbles are rarely warranted. And while those who identify with differing political parties may have natural disagreements over local issues, they aren’t likely to manifest all the time.

Over the next several weeks, arguments will be made. Those seeking re-election will obviously insist that experience, at least their own, is vital to providing Cheshire with continued success. Those seeking to unseat current elected officials will argue the opposite: That fresh blood is needed if Cheshire is to remain a vibrant community in the coming years.

We are interested to hear everyone’s ideas. We have no doubt the community is equally interested, especially as the country prepares to fully emerge into a post-pandemic world, whether that’s later this year or sometime in 2022. There are numerous big decisions that need to be made in the coming months and years, and those elected on Nov. 2 will be the ones making many of them.

But everything will be much harder to accomplish if partisan, left-right politics takes hold. Yes, disagreements should be expected, even encouraged. These government bodies should be representative of the different viewpoints of the Cheshire citizenry as a whole. If a majority of people on the Council or BOE are saying the Town should zig, there needs to be someone there to push back and recommend that it zag.

Yet, natural disagreement is one thing. Politics that demands one always take the other side against their opposition is another.

The former can lead to healthy outcomes and even compromise. The latter will lead to stagnation and bitter sniping that leads nowhere.

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