How Beth Shorten Is Doing Her Town Council Election Homework

By on April 30, 2019

My son is not a fan of homework. I can’t blame him. Is there a kid out there who LIKES homework? Surely there must be some, but… When I was a kid, I wasn’t a fan of homework either. Now that I’m an adult, I don’t have to do homework, right? Well…it depends on how you look at it.

Maybe it’s not exactly homework, but it IS work and it IS important for me to do. It’s important for ALL of us to do. And that is to do our own (personal) research/homework when it comes to making a decision on who (or in referendum cases what) to vote for. Each of us have our own values. Each of us have differing opinions. Each and every one of us needs to take the time and put in the effort to decide what is best for us before casting that vote.

For me, it starts on a local level. Several years ago, I realized that it was my obligation to find out more about candidates for our town council. That mission led me to writing this. As a result, I’ve worked to better inform myself and not just locally! I try to do as much research on candidates on the district, state and national level. I’ve even attended a meet and greet for a candidate I will not be able to vote for in the primaries (because I am unaffiliated), but hope to vote for in the fall. I fully disclosed this to the candidate and happily, the candidate was still eager to answer my questions and engage in a dialogue. (Which tells me the candidate is serious about the position and the work that needs to be done.)

However, local is still very near and dear to me (and my wallet!). Once again it is time to elect (or re-elect) town council members. The election is just over two weeks away and I’ve been following’s weekly questions with care. Which candidates align most closely with my thoughts? NO candidate is ever going to be a perfect match. One of our current council members and I actually discussed this. He is NOT up for reelection (that will narrow your guessing field down a bit), but when he is, unless the situation changes drastically, I WILL vote for him again because we generally do see eye to eye on matters, but he is also open to my thought when we don’t. He agrees that we don’t always agree and that’s okay. Add to the mix that he immediately followed up on a promise he made when he was running for council…and it’s easy to see why I would vote for him again. As I’ve said before, every vote counts and I want mine to be taken seriously.

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To that end, I went to every candidate’s website and carefully read them. It was interesting to note that this time, each candidate had a website AND active social media presence. (Not the case just two years ago.) Then, as I did last time there was a town council election, within a 20-minute time frame I sent each of them an email with question. Emails were sent out in the evening and there were no responses that night, but:

Candidate A responded to my email the next morning, approximately 13 hours after my email had been sent. Candidate A impressed me immediately because of the way the question was answered. It was very well thought out and went above and beyond what I was expecting. I was so impressed that I responded and we engaged in a dialogue about the town. This is what I want in a town council member; someone I can talk with. I’ll freely admit that Candidate A scored big points with me.

Candidate B responded approximately an hour later. While this candidate did give me a sort of standard and somewhat generic response, Candidate B DID speak of responsibility and respect which is very important to me. Candidate C responded an hour later. (Did they get together to time out their responses?).

Candidate C was the most formal in responding, addressing me as Ms. Shorten. There is NOTHING wrong with that in my book! Formality with a relative stranger (I have met candidate C in a semi-social situation, but while he might remember my face, he probably would not remember my name) to me shows respect and I appreciate that. Candidate C also included a phone number and told me to call if I wanted more detail or clarity. Like Candidate A, Candidate C was open to dialogue with me; something that I feel is very important.

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Candidates D and E did not respond to me. It’s been 72 hours since my email was sent out, so I’m not expecting anything. I found this disappointing as both Candidates have a heavy social media presence (as do ALL of the candidates). If they don’t have the time to answer me while they are trying to get my vote, what are the chances they will answer me if I need them and they are elected into office?

Those responses (or lack of) have helped me form my decision as to who I will vote for. But my decision is still not final. There are more questions to be asked and answered. There is still the Junior Women’s club public forum on Wednesday, May 1, at the Community Center. It’s your chance (and mine) to see the candidates in action and to get “a feel” for what they are really like.

I encourage you all to do your homework. Be informed! This is, after all, YOUR Verona. Your vote COUNTS. Get out there and vote on May 14!

(One final note: As I did the last time I wrote about my experiences and research before voting for town council candidates, 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.)

Beth Shorten is a life-long resident of Verona. For more than five years, she has been chronicling life here on her personal site, Bfth’s Boring Blog.

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