That’s Mr. Representative!
First off, I’m officially elected Representative.
Election Day was interesting. Deb and I headed to vote prior to taking the train and there was a trickle of people ahead of us. The kick off “greeters” including Dee Dee Brandt, someone from the other side of the aisle whom I have come to respect. Clearly, the top of the ticket candidates were not going to rest this day.
Throughout the day candidates for First Selectman, Selectman, Board of Finance, Board of Ed, Town Planning and Zoning plus district Representatives took turns greeting voters, handing out colored cards with the Row A or Row B names. Apparently, District 8 is one with a high concentration of unaffiliated voters so was highly contested (although they still couldn’t muster a single Republican for Rep). During High Noon, both First Selectman candidates were there which I’m told proved interesting.
I left work early and got to take my turn at about 5:45, just as the dark settled in and the temperature began to drop. There were 3-4 Republicans on one side of the median, a similar number of Democrats on the other. There was one Republican who exhorted all who came near to consider his party since the current Administration had raised our taxes 45% over the last few years. After spewing forth once or twice, I finally called over to him, “Even your guy only claimed it was 40% after first claiming it was 34%. Where do you get 45%?” No response. He continued his screed, I continued to challenge him, and it got interesting.
As people approached, I read body language. I either thanked them for coming out to vote or handed them a card. Some didn’t want to be bothered, and walked around us. Some barreled right through and ignored both sides while others were polite and took cards from both sides. I started being humorous about the whole thing, telling them to take one from all sides and complete their sets, treating them like trading cards.
Finally, around 7, we more or less decided to stop the hard sell. It was clear people were arriving with their minds made up. Instead, we were polite, thanking them for coming out to vote.
At 8, the polls officially closed. Sue Barrett, a staunch member of the Democratic Town Committee’s District 8, claimed her long-time right to be the one to count the ballots and call in the results to HQ. I went along, curious to see the process (running unopposed, there was little suspense for me personally).
Once the doors were locked, each machine’s fronts were locked, and then the backs were opened for the tallies. Seated at one table were the counters for both parties with the Republicans represented by their grand old man Carl Dickman and two college aides. Each machine would be read off, starting with the A column then the B. Carefully, the machine’s serial number was announced to the official moderator and then the numbers were called out. We scribbled furiously, someone behind the machines was repeating the numbers into a phone connected to the Town Clerk’s office.
Dickman, former RTM member, former State Rep, and a much respected figure, was alarmed at the numbers for his guys and admittedly sickened no one ran for RTM.
Once all four machines were read out, all the tallying began. Sue did the top of the ticket numbers, grabbed her phone and called Democratic HQ. I continued tallying. Once she got past Board of Ed, she decided she was done and left for the party. I fumed and continued to add each and every column, even Constables.
The Democrats had a very good showing across the board, not perfect mind you, but good. Out of the five RTM candidates, I came in fifth, which is no surprise being the newbie. I was disappointed in the spread, my 740 versus Pat Jacobson’s 800, but she’s beloved and I don’t begrudge her.
After a time, the poll workers, many of whom had been there since 5:45 a.m., announced they were locking the backs of the machines in case we wanted to look. We thanked them for their service and packed up our things. I did, though, ask for the giant mockup of the ballot to keep as a souvenir.
I drove over to the party, stopping to collect Robbie. Deb met us at Europa, a nice little restaurant a wee bit too small for the throng of people. Kate used to waitress there so we said hi to Spiro, the owner who seemed to remember us. Things were in full swing and sure enough, a tote board with all the positions was up and each district’s observer came over to record the numbers, so it’s a good thing I completed the chart.
There were finger foods, a cash bar and lots of people. We made chit chat here and there and I was very touched by how happy Deb was for my first formal election.
In the end, Ken Flatto defeated Jack Stone by something like 10% but we did not get both Board of Finance candidates on, just one, so the Republicans retain the majority making life difficult in the coming two years. Some very good RTM members also did not get voted back into office while we gained some new faces. Our sizeable majority of 38-12 shrunk dramatically to 27-23, which could make for more contentious meetings. One observed to me that it certain would make for longer meetings. Sigh. Three out of our ten districts are mixed; the other seven are either all Republican or all Democrat, which I find fascinating although I am too new at this to fully understand how that is.
Our first meeting will be on the 30th at which time we’ll be confirmed in our new committees. I suspect I’ll remain on Finance, which I think I’m okay with for the moment. After a few months effectively acting as a September call up, I’m about to begin my first season in the Majors and I’m looking forward to it.