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    Loose ends column: Elections, apathy, gamesmanship

    On the Connecticut side of the border it’s the beginning of election season. The parties in Stonington and North Stonington are preparing campaigns and candidate forums, and some are looking for every opportunity to slam their opponent. Campaign news will start to come in more consistently and letters to the editor won’t be far behind.

    Reporters from all media organizations will spend considerable time interviewing candidates and writing stories in an effort to provide readers with information about the candidates, their views on the issues, and their visions and goals for their towns should they win election to office.

    Election coverage is a big part of a news organization’s mission, and I always wonder just how much readers take advantage of the coverage. Voter turnout can be paltry if there are no burning issues of the sort that can divide a town. In some years, it seems that a townwide election draws fewer people than some of the annual events sponsored by organizations. Many are quick to come to the defense of the flag and our freedoms, yet so many forgo one of the most basic and important rights we have: the right to choose our leaders, whether they be in town hall or the White House.

    Perhaps some of that apathy can be blamed on the gamesmanship that often defines politics. National news is filled with such apathy-generating gamesmanship right now, as we hear of veterans’ survivors missing death benefit payments because of the government shutdown. Cynicism also takes its toll, as those who do try to stay in touch hear reports of special privileges and ducking responsibility, and in too many cases, just plain stupid moves on the part of those who would be called leaders — think New York Congressman Anthony Weiner and his character-flawed colleagues here. For some sad reason, many of us have come to accept this kind of buffoonery from those who are charged with handling the national treasury, our defense and our way of life. The national media plays into some of this, covering foolishness and drama as though it were news.

    There is buffoon-like behavior on the local level as well on occasion, and there is also gamesmanship.

    In every election, it seems, some vitally important information surfaces, news that is deemed essential for dissemination — as long as it comes out between September and November. I’ve always felt that news organizations can be used and abused at this time of year, when “news” is floated out there by sources who call with a tip in the interest of making life a little better for their friends and neighbors. This type of news rarely seems to be discovered in March or in a non-election year.

    In North Stonington, there is competition again to unseat long-term First Selectman Nick Mullane. It seems that the smaller the town, the hotter and deeper the passion runs when it comes to local politics. And North Stonington certainly has its share of passion.

    In Stonington, the Republicans came out loud and strong against incumbent First Selectman Ed Haberek with lots of criticism back in August, when endorsements were made and the official season kicked off for those who live and breathe local politics. At this early stage, it seems the North Stonington election will continue to feature quaint passion while the Stonington election will feature fireworks, drama and gamesmanship.



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