The Soap Box
By Timothy Bristol
The following was my public comment at the town council during the Public Hearing before the regularly scheduled Town Council Meeting (slightly modified)
I am here today to talk about the political game and blatant gerrymandering and the attempt to redistrict Councilwoman Shake out of her own district. This is not only a Cowardly act by the Republicans on this council but a gross corruption of the system. You could not beat Councilwoman Shake in a fair election, so you are rigging the system to push her out.
It is absolutely ridiculous that this would even be attempted but what can we expect at this point? I know that this will fall on deaf ears and be met with silence, but no political party should be in charge of redistricting. A nonpartisan commission would ensure minimal gerrymandering.
As a political scientist, I am well aware of how gerrymandering works, the tactics involved, and the effects of gerrymandering. I demand a change to the town charter to take political parties out of the process of redistricting and allow a non-partisan process to take its place. (Failing that allow the review of proposals by a nonpartisan commission to prevent gerrymandering.)
A nonpartisan process would reduce the heavy gerrymandering in several of our districts and keep out the shameful tactics like removing political opposition. This is not democratic, and the council should not accept the redistricting proposal.
Opinion Following the Town Council Meeting
The Town Council passed the redistricting proposal 6-4 on May 8th and sent it to the ordinance committee. They have decided to ignore the people and their constituents. They have decided that they only care about winning elections and not serving the public.
Council Chair Pia took exception to the comments of some and said they attacked his integrity, and he would not accept those kind of attacks. I would suggest to the councilman that he works for us, not the other way around. He has put himself and the entire council in a place where their integrity is in question. These kinds of games and political maneuvers reek of impropriety and people feel disenfranchised, especially those in District 2.
The Republicans on the council can say whatever they want about the process or data, but they planned this, and pushed it through without a second thought. Nothing anyone said during public comment on Monday night meant anything to them.
Like I said, it fell on deaf ears and was met with silence. They don’t represent anything or anyone except themselves and will do anything to keep power. I get it, that’s politics, it has happened before and it will happen again.
But, No one can now wonder now why so many people in this town are disengaged or don’t vote with a council like this.
Opposition is silenced, meetings are conducted with ruthless efficiency, and voters are disenfranchised. It is time for voters to stand up and oppose this council.
Silence is not an option for democracy to function properly. Local government affects our lives more than any other level of government. I fear we have been silent too long, and it is too little too late.
It’s time to wake up, It’s time for change
Thank you Timothy Bristol. I am astonished that this issue of the Crier doesn’t have a feature article about this scandalous behavior on the part of the Republican Council members. If this incident and the Center School property debacle doesn’t stir citizens into voting for people who will represent the wishes of the public, then nothing will.