An effective government represents the values of its constituents.
We all know that we have a representative form of government. We cannot be at every council, planning, School Committee, or other meeting. Therefore, it is important that we know the values of those who represent us. Representatives who have values similar to ours would be expected to represent our views and to vote the way we would vote most, but not all, of the time. There are times when there are legitimate differences between people of similar values, and that is to be expected.
My own values, and those of most of the people with whom I speak in town, are that we live in Charlestown because of the character, ambiance and friendliness of the Town. People appreciate that the town does not have large strip malls, high-rise buildings, large neon signs, heavy traffic and bright lights. They also appreciate the fact that we have open space to view and walk, clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and a jewel of a park at Ninigret Park.
We have reasonable development; there are small housing developments being built in town on a regular basis, about 40 newly constructed houses per year for the last 5 years. We have businesses that employ local residents, rather than large big-box stores, that would not.
For the last 12 years, the CCA-endorsed, independent town councilors and Planning Commission members have guided Charlestown in maintaining its character and its low tax rate, the lowest of all but three towns in the entire state. They have encouraged open, transparent, responsive government and have selected people with these values to serve on boards and commissions; and have hired and supported an excellent town administrator and his staff.
A few people have said to me that change is good, and normally I subscribe to that rule. However, when the changes differ from your very core values, they are not good.
I have 50 years of experience in town government and have served in many different roles — as a councilor and on Planning, Zoning, Charter Revision and Search Committees — in Connecticut and Charlestown. The CCA-endorsed, independent officials and the town administrator here in Charlestown are as good as any I have ever experienced.
This year our slate of independent candidates consists of highly competent, experienced people and very well-qualified new people, whom I feel confident, because of their values and views, will continue to maintain the character and low tax rate of Charlestown, while being open to reasonable new development and other ideas.
These independent candidates for the Planning Commission are Ruth Platner, Gordon Foer, Frances Topping, and Walter Mahony. The independent candidates for the town council, who appear together at the bottom of the ballot this year, are Bonnie Van Slyke, Susan Cooper, Cody Clarkin, Dave Wilkinson and Sheila Andrew.
The writer is president of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance.