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Letter to the Editor: Deputy Mayor Selection Process

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To the Editor:

Let’s discuss this Deputy Mayor business. I would invite anyone to comment and one needn’t agree.

The position of Deputy Mayor seems largely an honorary title. It’s not invested with significant policy or procedural power and might even be seen as constricting in that it requires the Deputy to be in line with the Mayor. I’m capitalizing because I see caps a lot on Twitter so they must be good?

I think it’s safe to assume that we voters reliably believe that any Deputy is not laying in wait for the Mayor to have a hernia repaired and while they are under anesthesia, the Deputy rewrites the Town Charter. There doesn’t seem to be a precedent for that.

It also seems safe to assume that most Town Council members can do the job of Deputy Mayor. If they are not capable then they probably wouldn’t be on the Council.

So I’m left with a math problem. The long observed tradition is that the second-highest vote getter is awarded the position of Deputy Mayor. This tradition is not written into the Town Charter but the only exceptions I have found have been voluntary exceptions where a member relinquishes the position for one reason or another. There may be a non-voluntary example but it’s definitely not the norm.

For some reason, my vote and 8,744 other residents that voted for Beth Kerrigan, are only getting a discounted or devalued vote. Our votes seems to count less for Beth than the other folks I voted for. I supported the ticket because I trust that my elected representatives will represent. The tradition of second-highest vote getter should be honored OR the process should play out in a transparent, less opaque fashion with a clear explanation. Is this a move to consolidate like minded councilors? I like that Beth Kerrigan can be occasionally challenging. It’s healthy to have a wide ranging discussion about important ideas. It’s imperative that our votes count. The process needs explanation.

I have gathered a fair version of both sides of this story and barring further developments, I think the will of the people, the math, the vote count, should be honored and that Beth Kerrigan remain in her position. We’re all imperfect humans and the Town Council is no different. Work it out. It’s why we gave you a strong mandate. We believe that the council members are capable of sorting through differences embedded in a diverse body.

I want to give a personal reason as to why Beth got the second highest vote count. I canvassed with Beth during several election cycles. It took me awhile to figure out her particular style and why it’s so effective. On occasion, I would do two houses to Beth’s one house. Then I began to walk with her and see that her level of engagement was 100% regardless of party affiliation. I watched her flip Independents and Republicans by listening and responding to every point in a thoughtful, personally engaging way. It dawned on me that each of these people would tell their story to two or three other people and that’s powerful testimony. Beth earned those votes.

I’m not writing this to be divisive and I’ve been wrong a time or two but this process will cast a shadow and we ought to resolve it before the shadow grows long.

Here’s the vote count:

  • Cantor, 9,924
  • Kerrigan, 8,745
  • Davidoff, 8,450
  • Sweeney, 8,392
  • Wenograd, 8,327
  • Blanks, 7,650
  • Gold, 5,013
  • Fay,4,755
  • Williams, 4,695
  • Bush, 4,588
  • Cortes, 3,950
  • Woods-Weber, 2,345

Jim Chapdelaine
West Hartford

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1 Comment

  • Beth Kerrigan did not flip this pro Trump Independent who usually votes Republican. I am an ex-gay, former homosexual (no joke). Beth doesn’t think I have rights. She doesnt represent me. Where are my rights Beth? She doesnt deserve to be Deputy Mayor.

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