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ABOUT TOWN: Charter

Tuesday, Nov. 6, is a big day for the country. It is even more important for the town of Weston. How we govern ourselves in the future underlies the importance of both.

Six offices are up for election: president and vice president, U.S. senator, representative in Congress, state senator, state representative, and registrar of voters. And Election Day this year gives all Weston voters the chance to do one more thing. We get to vote “yes” or “no” on this question:

“Shall the Weston Town Charter as amended and restated be approved?”

Now no one knows how this vote will turn out, in part because no one knows how many people will vote on the charter question, which appears at the end of the ballot. Sometimes people get tired making up their minds and making so many decisions.

But please, do not forget to vote on this item. The town charter determines how our local version of democracy is going to operate. And don’t forget to vote on the second-to-last item on the ballot, either, which is for the office of registrar of voters.

The League of Women Voters of Weston wants to celebrate democracy with you, on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 10:30 a.m. in the town hall Meeting Room. “A Town Affairs Update” is the name of the program.

The first selectman, the superintendent of schools, and the chairman of the Board of Finance are getting ready to fill us in on what’s up in their respective areas of responsibility.

If the new charter is approved by the voters on Election Day, joining the panel will be a former co-chairman of the Charter Revision Commission. And a representative of the Lachat Oversight Committee is ready to reveal the latest progress there.

Please join the League for lunch afterwards, in the Commission Room. Consider becoming a member of the League, too. Men as well as women belong!

New

New to the charter in this revision is a preamble. The opening paragraph goes like this: “Since colonial times the Town of Weston has taken its character from the many generations that have cherished local democracy.”

Weston began its municipal existence in 1757, when we broke away from Fairfield. Even today we are a bit different from other towns, it being appropriate to continue describing ourselves as “outliers.” Check journey-to-work data in the U.S. Census. We have the longest commute in southwestern Connecticut!

This preamble is a heartfelt missive from the members of the Charter Revision Commission to their neighbors. They get the concept that Weston doesn’t want wholesale change to the way we govern ourselves.

But some ideas are new. Powers of the selectmen are somewhat increased. “Professionalizing” town hall by having an appointed tax collector is part of that. The town clerk position was left as an elective office, after strong objections to making it appointive were voiced at the last public hearing on the proposed charter.

So if you want to “fight city hall” you still can, with impunity! The first step in attempting to override a decision of the Board of Selectmen is to call a special town meeting. Signatures on a petition are required. Who do you see to begin this process? The town clerk, who is still independent, and there for you, in the new charter.

NOTE: “About Town” is also a television program. It appears on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 6 p.m. on Cablevision Channel 88 (Public Access).

About author
Check out Margaret Wirtenberg's website: http://www.aboutweston.com/

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