Letter: Don't vote for me

To the Editor:

This Election Day, please don’t vote for me.

In fact, you can’t, because after just two years on the Town Council, I decided that I could not run for re-election because it is simply not worth it.

In that short period of time, I have attended countless hours of meetings, spoken dozens of times on issues that I care deeply about (and others that would perfectly replace your current sleep medication). There have been meetings that lasted long into the night. I have watched public speakers eloquently plea with the Council to do this-or-that. Experts have testified. After all that, I can count on one hand the number of times any of it made a difference.

You see, the Town Council meetings are really a mock hearing of the issues. The outcome is pre-determined in the caucus room of the Republican Party. I have watched my Democratic colleagues turn purple in the face attempting to make a case for evenly redistricting the town, questioning the spending of the WPCA or making the simple point that the Democratic alternate on the Board of Finance should be a Democrat.

In response to these speeches, I have watched members of the majority restrain their yawns, roll their eyes, check their phones. Occasionally, there will be the rare flash of passion on the Republican side when they debate whether or not we should get free money from the federal government. But for the most part, their affect tells me “why do you guys even bother? This was decided hours ago.”

And they’re right.

I joined the Town Council thinking that we would debate the issues and come to some conclusions as a result of those debates. But the most debate I have seen is when people want to trip over each other complaining about the state of affairs in Washington or Hartford. Ask them to care about an outrageous expenditure by Trumbull’s own WPCA, however, and you get a shrug.

In the end, I realize that this was an interesting journey, but it should come to an end. I learned a lot about town government and met some very dedicated and passionate people. Nevertheless, it became clear that if I am going to miss bedtime with my kids or date night with my wife, it had better be because I am making a difference. And the simple fact is that I am not.

As time has gone on, I have done less research on the issues and disengaged from debate. Truth be told, I’m not a very good representative anymore. And the folks in the majority could do better too. During budget season, I was astonished at the total ignorance of some members who were quite possibly looking at the budget for the first time the night we voted on it. Again, why research or engage in discourse when your side has this one in the bag?

When you go to the polls this November, consider the effects that an imbalanced Town Council will have on the quality of your representation. You potentially could have a minority of just four members out of twenty-one (thank you Republican redistricting plan). Imagine if you were a member of that minority party. What would you be willing to sacrifice in your personal life to represent a lost cause?

Or imagine that you are one of the seventeen. Consider how bored you would become watching the minority four try to make a case, knowing that it was all figured out long before you even walked in the door.

Do you believe decisions should be made on the Town Council floor as a result of rigorous debate and research? Do you think members should be open to the possibility of being swayed by a period of public comment? If so, vote against lopsided majorities. If you just vote the party line, don’t be surprised when your representative gets lazy. The real decisions will get made in the majority caucus room, and public “hearings” will be an oxymoron because the majority is deaf.

Thank you to all the good volunteers of both parties who serve on the Council for including me in your club. This letter is intended as an indictment of imbalance and no one in particular. And to the voters of District 1 who allowed me to serve, thank you… and choose wisely!

Gotta go. I’ve got date night…

Gregg Basbagill

Town Council

District 1, 2011-2013

Editor's note: This letter will not run as is in the Times print edition, since it is above our 250-word limit for election/political letters.