Letter — Democracy is not a spectator sport

I have a bumper sticker on the back of my car (Thanks to Beryl Kaufman) that says “Democracy is not a spectator sport.” I truly believe this.

In America, and especially in small town America, we want and hopefully encourage civic participation and engagement. Isn't this a shining star in our American make-up?

There are so many ways to participate and be engaged in our democracy. Voting is one way and a very important one. Also, individuals can run for office, help on campaigns, volunteer on town boards and committees, initiate and carry out petitions on community issues, and many more ways.

So this year, I participated locally in helping to secure signatures on the petitions initiated by the Trumbull Citizens for 7 Voting Districts. I feel this was worthwhile and an important issue to many across a broad spectrum of voters. This was an opportunity for our electorate to consider seven districts.

Going door-to-door, I came across many who were annoyed that their polling places were changed, told me of lines at their polling places or that they couldn't vote because their polling place (primarily District 2) was too far away when they got home from work. Some of my neighbors were shocked to learn that our street is divided right down the middle of the street so neighbors across the street cannot vote for candidates/neighbors on our side. This districting makes no sense.

Also, is there anyone else out there who finds it troublesome during election time to learn where 10 to 12 candidates stand on issues? Our charter requires that our town council have 21 council members. That divides unevenly within four districts. I am in the Super District 4 which has six town council representatives. There is nothing "Super" about this. Oh, how I long for the days of old where I just needed to learn about half that number.

I found that this issue/concern rang true and loudly for many in Trumbull. A couple of people who I encountered during petition signing, gave me their spouse's name and number and asked me to call them because they really wanted to sign! So you would think that our town council would be receptive to hearing out and considering this issue. You would think that they would have given the 10% to 12% of our electorate (the 2,900 who signed) a chance to be heard. Some council members were concerned and wanted to listen but certainly not the majority.

It could have been a different story. The chairman and the Town Council could have given the people of Trumbull a chance to speak their mind and vet this issue, even if it weren't in the context of a town council meeting. They still could. We want to make voting easier, not harder. Right? Across America, right?

Well Trumbull citizens, don't be a spectator, be a participant. Remember this at the polls when you go to vote on November 7.