Comments from Christopher Parkin: Board of Education candidate

For better or worse, we live in a two-party nation. That’s true in Redding, Hartford, and Washington. Locally, we choose municipal leaders every two years in a process dominated by the major parties. Thirty percent of Redding voters are Republican and another thirty percent are Democrats. The 40% of voters who are unaffiliated have no say in municipal nominees, and are effectively compelled to accept the choices made by the major party establishment. Those choices are primarily made in closed door committee meetings and agreements that result in the number of candidates equaling the number of openings. Frequently, the result is an uncontested election — effectively, a non-election.

This year is no different. There is no contest when it comes to the Board of Selectmen, Board of Assessment Appeals, and Planning Commission, among other offices. And that’s a shame. Contested elections serve a tremendously valuable role in the free exchange of ideas in our community. When candidates run unopposed, there are no debates. There are no candidate statements in the newspaper or platforms crafted and defended. Reddingites are denied the opportunity to consider and endorse a preferred view for moving forward on key issues. We don’t even know what many candidates think about anything. This year’s unopposed races, for example, have led to precious little discussion of the future of Georgetown, police department spending, the town’s new Plan of Conservation and Development, and imminent property revaluation, among other issues that will impact each and every one of us in the coming years.

In contrast, because of contested elections for the Board of Finance and both school boards, this election season has been focused on education. I am contesting an election for Redding Board of Education as a petitioning candidate because I believe it’s important to have an open and honest conversation about our schools and their future, and to give Reddingites a choice at the polls that wouldn’t otherwise exist. I am passionate about the need to look ahead, plan for the future of education, and instill a sense of shared pride in our schools that extends beyond the immediate school community and touches the entire town.

For too long, the discussion about education in the community has been exclusively one of dollars and cents. I want to bring the community together to talk about the arts, science, engineering, and literacy. Join me. Let’s set measurable long-term educational goals and implement real fiscal discipline, rather than austerity for austerity’s sake. Let’s talk about partnering with neighboring districts and the private sector to broaden offerings, improve efficiencies, and modernize curricula. With a willingness to think past tomorrow, we can do it without runaway spending or tax increases.

It’s heartening to hear my calls for long-range planning echoed throughout both the BOE and BOF debates last month. These conversations simply wouldn’t have happened without a contested election. Because I believe in the value of choice in elections, you have a choice on Nov. 7 and can find my name on Row D.

 

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  • Problem is when public school administrator pushes a political agenda NOT inclusive of two party system. JRMS custodian Bill Cook has fingered his school’s principal Diane Martin, as a left wing radical, who has forced staff out of her school NOT in sink with her one sided ideology.

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