Westporters blessed with knowledge in local elections
Published 1:06 am, Friday, October 30, 2009
When it comes to getting knowledgeable about local government, I`m jealous that Westporters have it made so well.
I come from a small town in upstate New York located halfway between Lake George and Saratoga. Even though we have a population of about 18,000, practically nobody knows who the mayor is, what the local boards do or what exactly is going on with all the tax money. Like Westport, my hometown becomes inundated with election signs this time of the year, but to almost everyone they`re simply names. Nobody knows who they are or what they do.
One of the reasons for our lack of knowledge is there`s almost no news coverage in the area. The large daily located in the adjacent town has had its staff cut so short that its reporters rarely venture over the bridge into my hometown. There are also no weekly newspapers or online sources covering the area. The pinnacle of news coverage was when The New York Times stopped in for a story, noted how the area is ignorant and poor, and then left.
Without any news coverage it`s hard for most people from my hometown to stay informed. In Westport, there are a variety of sources, plus the somewhat regular coverage from large dailies like the Connecticut Post and The Advocate. Even The New York Times, regularly features the town despite all the cutbacks it`s facing.
With all this coverage, it`s much easier to get a feel for the elected officials in Westport, which is especially true during elections. The town does an excellent job of making government proceedings available to everyone by broadcasting meetings online and on local television. The stellar town Web site (www.westportct.gov) also helps since it contains more information and is better designed than any other municipal Web site that I have ever seen.
The reason I`m so jealous -- and perhaps a little bitter -- is that Westporters have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips. For once in my life I`ve become totally informed about a local election. I know the candidates. I know the issues. This all helps as a reporter, but it does little for me as a voter. I live in Bridgeport, so I can`t cast a ballot here. Hopefully, many of you will do what I can`t on Nov. 3.