To the Editor,
Experience and history serve as testament to the danger posed by a concentration of political power in any one party’s hands.
The Founding Fathers of this great nation perceived clearly this peril. In Federalist 51, James Madison defended the virtue of divided government: “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
Madison, along with his coauthors, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, sought to limit the danger of one-party rule through establishment of checks and balances in government. Nevertheless, political parties have traditionally sought, wherever possible, to defeat the “inconvenience” this restriction places on their power at the ballot box.
Lack of transparency and accountability are all too frequently the result of one-party dominance at any level of government. At a minimum, one-party rule produces sclerotic and ill-conceived policies; more often, the result is cronyism and corruption. The wielders of unchecked power retreat to closed-door decision-making, with little or no opportunity for public scrutiny or reasoned debate. In short, one-party governance yields a “soft authoritarianism” that avoids effective oversight and frequently results in legislative overreach.
Broader representation is therefore needed for effective and judicious governance. For far too long, Chatham Township and Chatham Borough have each been hamstrung by one-party rule. In both municipalities, government decisions have increasingly been made in closed-door sessions, out of view of both the opposing party and general public. With no loyal opposition to scrutinize the measures advanced by these democratically elected bodies, the system of checks and balances, so cherished by our nation’s founding Fathers, is effectively defeated. Transparency is thereby imperiled; accountability effectively denied.
This state of affairs is not just undemocratic; it is un-American. On November 3, Chatham Township will have the opportunity to correct this imbalance and restore the sort of transparency and accountability that comes from broader representation on its legislative body. It can do so by electing Stacey Ewald, a Democrat, to a seat on its Committee.
Among other things, Stacey stands out for her exemplary leadership skills and managerial experience as demonstrated by the following: Founding President of the Chatham Education Foundation; past President of the Southern Boulevard School Parent Teacher Organization; fourteen years’ professional experience in audit management and finance; an MBA in Finance and BS in Actuarial Science from NYU; a wide range of volunteer work in the Township over the past eighteen years.
Stacey’s résumé is testament to her ability to bring constructive collaboration to a Republican dominated Township Committee; her status as the sole Democrat (the loyal opposition) ensures a restoration of transparency and accountability, thus rendering it representative of all of the Township’s residents.
I strongly urge the residents of Chatham Township to select Stacey Ewald for a seat on the Chatham Township Committee. It is a vote for transparency and accountability, as well as for effective, collaborative, and judicious governance.
Thaddeus J. Kobylarz
Chair, Chatham Borough Democratic Committee