Today I urge you to cast your vote on July 31st using facts over conjecture. I have supported consolidating Newton’s elections well before my campaign or subsequent election. While the current state of the issue has become convoluted and motives murky, the facts lie beyond opinions or theories.
In theory, moving our elections from May to November would rob us of a nonpartisan Faulkner election and produce more uninformed voters choosing solely on party lines. While this theory seems plausible it is hardly factual. First and foremost Newton would maintain Faulkner status and the council candidates could not run under a party banner nor would their names be associated with a party on the ballot. Also, as I stated in the NJ Herald debate (5/1/18): One could argue that there is greater political party influence now than there would be in November because there are no other elections, political parties can move unseen with greater influence and power to steer the election as they see fit without having to show where their support lies. However in November there are highly contested high seats of power up for grabs and the major parties will be busy fighting for them. The notion we are fully nonpartisan at present is fictional and therefore must be cast out of my thought process. Facts and only facts must be used when faced with mountains of conjecture.
The second theory is that moving the election is fueled by a desire to change the form of government for some nefarious purpose. Again I look for evidence. The special election does not include any language or power to change the form of government, it simply would change the date to align with the November general elections. That is all. If nefarious motives surface we can expose them but I find this conspiracy theory to be weak when it comes to probability and without evidence I must again cast it out of my decision making.
The argument that the most dedicated and educated will vote in May is again, without supporting evidence. One could argue that those with the most local connections would simply pull ahead by popularity alone when the difference between winning a seat is less than 30 votes. Having more relatives or a long standing career in town could amount to the extra votes needed to win and those votes would come with no real merit. So again, we find another argument against moving the elections that holds no water.
With elections it is always the duty of the candidate to reach their voters to state their case and to explain their platform. Moving the elections does not change the need for this, it simply amplifies that need because of all the other concurrent races with candidates vying to reach those same voters. If anything I believe you would see better platform explanations and more organized campaigns to educate the voters on each candidate’s positions.
Look for statistical absolutes; cost savings and voter participation.
We have these two clear, concrete pieces of evidence to base our decision on. We know that saving approximately $20,000 is an absolute. We also know nearly doubling the amount of Newton votes cast is also an absolute. Voter participation in the most recent municipal election saw 1016 voters of the 4897 registered while the 2017 general election saw 1871 of 4788. Moving from May to November means ~20% voter participation becomes ~40% with a simple date change.
I was elected to Newton council by the people to represent them and their interest on issues while carefully considering my actions and consequences of them. I have carefully considered all the theories and weighed them against the facts. In this case the facts say vote Yes on 7/31 as the first step toward decreasing the town budget and nearly doubling voter participation for future municipal elections.
Just because the petitioners received bad advice and acted on it does not mean the entire issue becomes something to bury.
Cast aside opinions, conjecture and conspiracy. Look to statistical truths over alternative truths.
Jason Schlaffer (This statement and its viewpoints are solely that of the author and does not reflect that of the Newton Council)