How Beth Shorten Did Her Election Homework

By on May 2, 2017

Over the past couple of years I have become more politically active. That is NOT to say that I am a political activist (not my cup of tea), but I have grown tired of exclusive “parties” and the “us vs them” train of thought. I’ve never felt as if I was truly a part of any political party (and earlier this year finally got fed up enough to declare myself unaffiliated..

One of the nice things about our town is that our local government is NOT run by a party. While the members of our town council may be registered with a political party, they do not run on a party platform. This is SUPPOSED to mean that they are elected on merit. Living in a relatively small town, it could be all too easy for this to become a popularity contest of sorts. Which is why I wrote this.

I needed to follow my own advice and get to know the candidates. I read and re-read the questions/answers asked here on MyVeronaNJ. I’ve read the endorsement letters written by members of the community (including one written by my father which I did not realize he had written until someone pointed it out to me!). I visited the websites. And I attended the candidate forum. But I wanted to take it one step farther…

Let me be upfront; I do not really know most of the candidates. I do know Jack McEvoy because he lives across the street from me. I would say we are good friends but we are not incredibly close (other than proximity). I have met our Mayor Kevin Ryan too, but while he may know my name from this forum, I don’t know if we passed each other on the street if he would know me. As I said before knowing someone isn’t necessarily the best reason to vote for them. And in the middle of all the political upheaval that we hear about on a daily basis, I want my vote to mean something. I want to vote with the knowledge and confidence that the person(s) I am casting my ballot for are the ones who best personify my beliefs and concerns. Maybe I can’t/don’t make a difference on a national scale, but when it comes to MY town, MY Verona, I CAN.

So here’s what I did. On the morning of Monday, April 24, I sent an email/message to each candidate. I asked each one of them the same question and then I waited. Here’s what happened:

  • Candidate A emailed me that evening. (6-1/2 hours after my email was sent.) Provided me with a thoughtful answer. Wanted to know if I was asking this as a “reporter” or just out of curiosity. (For the record, I don’t consider myself a reporter. I’d say I’m a writer/blogger and sometimes, but NOT all of the time, this website will publish what I write.) I was asking out of curiosity, but I have to admit that it got me thinking about writing about this experience.
  • Candidate B also contacted me that evening. (8 hours after my email was sent.) Also provided me with a thoughtful answer and asked if I was writing a piece for MyVeronaNJ. (So now the seed was really planted in my brain and you know why this post came about.)
  • Candidate C responded the next day. (Just a little over 24 hours after my email went out.) Provided me with a good answer to my question. Candidate C also said he/she enjoyed reading my posts on MyVeronaNJ.
  • Candidate D contacted me approximately 34 hours after my initial message went out. Candidate D gave me an excellent answer to my question. Candidate D did not mention this site or any of my writings.
  • Candidates E & F have not responded as I write this post. (To be honest, in my book if you’re going to answer an email you really need to do it within 48 hours, even if it is a just an acknowledgement that you received the email and will get back to the sender at a later date.)
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While I did not expect to hear from each candidate (I know we ALL live very busy lives), I did HOPE to hear from each of them. It’s my train of thought that if you can’t respond to my email when you want something from me (my vote; and as you should be aware, in Verona EVERY vote counts), how can I expect you to respond when I want/need to something from you as a council member? I am purposely not naming those candidates who did not respond because this column is NOT about shaming anyone and they very may well have good reasons why they did not respond to me.

I will tell you who I most likely voting for. I say most likely because until I am actually in that booth, you never truly know. I have every intention of voting for two of the candidates who answered my question. Not because they responded or gave a fantastic answer, but because of their overall consistent message. My candidate selection is based on what I have learned about these candidates from their websites, their answers to MyVeronaNJ’s weekly questions, and their presentation at the candidate forum. Their personal responses to me just solidified my decision.

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I have the opportunity to vote for one more candidate. As I write this, I am torn between who that may be. Perhaps I will not make that decision (if I decide at all) when I walk into the voting booth on Tuesday, May 9.

I didn’t write this post to tell you who to vote for; I’m encouraging you to “do your homework” before you cast your vote. We’re down to the wire and your vote IS important. (I’m sure all six candidates would agree with that.) If you weren’t able to attend the candidate forum, be sure to check out the video posted on this site. (Turn those speakers up and really listen; listen more than once!) Go to the candidates’ websites. Email questions (maybe you’ll have better luck with candidates D & E than I did). Then, go to your polling place and cast your vote! (Voter turnout for our last local election was less than 30%, certainly we can do better than that!)

(One final note: I purposely did not reveal the question to the candidates, the responses from those who DID respond or who I have decided to vote for. It is not to be coy or funny. I want to encourage everyone to do their own research and make up their own minds. However, if anyone is truly interested in: (a) The question I asked, (b) the answers I received and/or (c) who I am likely to cast my vote for, I would be happy to answer privately.)

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