By Rhona Cohen
There are two very consequential local democratic primaries happening in New Britain on August 9th.
Local elections are hardly ever discussed anywhere in statewide media, which might lead folks to believe they are of no consequence. However, they have major and reverberating effects, both locally and nationally. New Britain residents are about to participate in a primary fight for the democratic candidates for Registrar of Voters and for the State Senate.
The Registrar of Voters is our local champion ensuring the vote is extended fairly to all of the city’s citizens. In some places in our country the vote for local positions like School Board has been extended beyond citizens to include legal residents since they too pay taxes and have a stake in their communities. For instance, in New York City, the right to vote for School Board members was extended to legal permanent residents who had children in the public school system from the 1970’s until 2002 when NYC school boards were disbanded.
There are 6 municipalities in Maryland where non-citizens can vote. We have not made that progressive leap forward with the disenfranchised in Connecticut, but we could if we had local registrars championing the cause. The State Senate provides for a lot of the money coming to New Britain and fights for such goods as health care and public education along with policies that govern every aspect of our lives. How do we find out which candidate in these two battles is more likely to support progressive causes?
In this I believe the national elections and events have been instructive. Everyone is talking about trust. Hillary Clinton’s convention focused on how untrustworthy Donald Trump is saying in her own speech on July 28th, “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust,” (CNN).
Delegates interviewed at the convention talked about trust issues they had with Clinton themselves or that they worried the rest of the country might have with her. And the DNC email scandal fanned the flames, making a vocal minority wonder if the Democratic Primary process could be trusted at all. We have to base our support not so much on the candidates as on the company they keep.
Nationally, this is a difficult task, there are so many players, playing so many sides of so many issues. However, locally, we can get to know the players and this year, at least, the choice seems quite clear.
Since the Republican party of New Britain has no primaries of their own to distract them, they have quite publicly waded into the Democratic ones.
What does it mean that the two challengers of the democratically endorsed candidates, Michael Trueworthy and Senator Terry Gerratana, are so visibly supported by Republican Mayor Erin Stewart the head of the local Republican Party? Can Sharon Beloin-Saavedra and Lucian Pawlak, the candidates Stewart supports, be counted on to support our demands?
Do Republicans generally fight for people to get the vote? Not in North Carolina, where the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit invalidated voter restrictions which it said “targeted African Americans with almost surgical precision” in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the 14th Amendment.
Not here, by our own Republican Registrar’s words and deeds over the last several years. For example, in testimony to the state legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee on March 2, 2012, he said that he thought Connecticut’s voter identification rules are “too lax” and “should be revisited” to make them more onerous.
How about in the fights at the Capitol? Senate votes can oftentimes, maybe most of the time, be counted Republican vs Democrat. For instance, Republicans fight against taxing the upper crust and Democrats fight to make millionaires spend their fair share on such things as our constitutionally provided for public education. For example, in voting for the budget Senate Bill 1239, while some Democrats voted it down, every single Republican in the chamber voted against its passage.
On August 9th, Democrats have a real choice. We can ascertain the difference between the candidates by examining the company they keep. We cannot trust those candidates that are indebted to the Republican party to govern with democratic values, like the ones voted on and ratified at the Democratic National Convention.
Instead we should vote for the Endorsed Democrats, Senator Terry Gerratana and former Alderman Michael Trueworthy, who we can count on to keep their word to govern with the values of Democrats, protecting the right to vote, growing the income of the middle and working classes, fighting for services for the poor, for Veterans, and for those with disabilities.
Ultimately the endorsement process has meaning and in this case, we should trust it. We should vote for the two democrats in the Democratic primary.
Rohna Cohen is the Opinion Editor of the New Britain Independent, and is a Columnist for the Independent. The views expressed here are the opinion of the author and are not necessarily the views of the New Britain Independent Newspaper, Inc.