Good People

Today was a first.  First on two scores… it was the first time I voted for a Selectman and the first time I used a paper ballot.  I am not sure about this “selectman” stuff.  I am used to Mayors and Town Councilmen; but I have been advised not to let it throw me off.  The First Selectman is the Mayor, sort of.  And the other Selectman are like the Town Council… or a band of merry men, sort of.

It probably has something to do with the difference between a City and Town.  Ellen’s brother Will tried to explain the technical differences to me one time after dinner… but by that point we had several iced vodkas, and this was after a few aperitifs and wine with dinner… I think it had something to do with how things were set up in our Colonial period… and that took place long before the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and understanding it all seemed far more than it was worth.

I have decided that First Selectman means that Woodbury is a fancy shmancy town like Westport and New Canaan.

This was my second voting experience in Woodbury.  Last year we voted for State and National offices so there was more hoopla about the vote.  A larger turn out also meant that the polling place was in a middle school… and we had the voting machines… just like the ones that I have used in previous elections in other towns.

But this year it was just for local offices… and the polling place was in our Town Hall.  Town Hall is also the place where Art Shows and Soccer Sign-Up take place.  Maybe the First Selectman is the head of the soccer league and director of the art guild?  Town Hall is also used for blood drives by the Red Cross… maybe the First Selectman has something to do with that, too?

It was my first time in Town Hall… my kids don’t play soccer any more.  I’ve been tempted by the art show; but would feel compelled to buy something… and I don’t have the scratch for that.  Blood?  That make’s me feel antsy.  Or maybe I would just find the First Selectman in there eating donuts and making rude comments about the lengths of skirts these days.

But there I was at 6:10AM… given a quick lesson about filling out a paper ballot.  I got spooked… didn’t that district in Florida have trouble with “hanging chads” from paper ballots… and as a result we’ve had to suffer with the worst President in our Nation’s History.  Maybe there would be similar shenanigans with the paper ballots in Woodbury?

All this said… I prefer local elections.  It’s not really about the Party… it’s about the People.  On the local level we’re not concerned with large issues… foreign policy, the national debt… We’re concerned about Education, plowing the street, a new truck for the fire department and keeping Dunkin Donuts and other chain operations out of Woodbury.  It’s why our paper ballot had as many entries for Planning and Zoning (and related areas) as anything else.

I am still very new to Woodbury… and not knowing the people put me at a disadvantage… it would mean that I would have to vote for a Party (which on a local level, as noted, doesn’t appeal to me), or listen to Sandy (but she seemed to think that to run for office, by definition would put you on the dark side… she had negative things to say about everybody… or nearly everybody). 

Then to my surprise… one day when traveling on our Main Street I noticed a name on one of those “vote for…” signs that clutter the lawns this time of the year… I know that guy!  Hey!  I know someone who is running for office!  It didn’t say what he was running for… but there he was: George Hale.

George, I have known for as long as I have been working at Grapes.  He buys wine from me on occasion.  We’ve always gotten along well on the phone and when I moved up to Woodbury, Sandy and I had dinner with George and his wife Terri at John’s Cafe.  It was a terrific evening… little did I know then that we were sitting down with a mover and a shaker in local affairs.

So… this morning when I braved the stiff rain, stepped inside Town Hall for the first time, said good morning to Ladies of the Ballot (they reserve the men for voting machine elections), and knew that I was going to vote for George Hale.  I didn’t know what he was running for… I didn’t know what Party he represented.  But I was there to cast my paper ballot because I knew George.  I liked him.  I liked they way he thinks.  I trust him to use good judgment.  I may not agree with everything decision he would make pertaining to local issues… but I would expect him to think things thru and make decisions based on what he thought was right.  And I’ll happily live with that, even if we don’t agree on all issues.

This morning it was real simple for me… it’s about people.  And George Hale is good people.

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