When I was asked to run for First Selectman as the endorsed candidate of the Democratic Party, I could not say “no”. I realized that if I said “no” that this would be a contradiction to approximately 250 articles and position statements that I had published at the Cafe…besides after escaping a twister in Pomfret in mid-May I was feeling rather invincible so I said “yes”. To say “no” would mean that I wasn’t going to back up my words with actions. This concern has been foremost in my mind for over a year. Some commentors at the Cafe have criticized other Caf’ers for not getting involved in Town matters beyond their anonymous statements at the Cafe. The fact of the matter is that a very high percentage of Cafe’ers are activists, or are becoming active, in Town for the benefit of the issues that they each feel most strongly about. Indeed, recently we have seen other issues surface at the Cafe such as promotion of clean energy and concern about the impact of cell towers in our environment.
My new found activism in recent months was not limited to local politics though. After I wrote the article about siRNA as a promising science that would revolutionize the drug industry and recommended purchasing stock in Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, several of my colleagues purchased Alnylam’s stock. Then I realized that I needed to back up my words with action so I purchased this stock also … and fortunately Alnylam’s stock more than doubled since early July in the face of a troubled market. Finally I decided to enroll in clean energy for the sake of the globe (thanks to the advocacy of the Stratos’) even though it would increase my energy bill .
There could be no question that my positions on many key issues in Woodstock would be viewed as politically incorrect if I articulated them during the campaign but I was not going to try to ameliorate the political impact of these views for the sake of winning an election (most of these views can be read under titles on the right). After talking with quite a few people leading up to the primary, I realized that only a small few had considered more than one or two issues in depth to the extent needed to understand them [issues such as the handling of the highway facility/salt issue, the well publicized issues surrounding the relationship between the Academy and the Town of Woodstock, clean energy, growth of Town Hall funding at taxpayers' expense, performances of the Boards of Selectmen, Finance, Education, and the Planning and Zoning Commission, Town website management, open space and Town development, PA-490 and Prop 46]. Many, who I talked with, championed only one issue but were confused about the details of their issue or had been deceived by mis- and/or dys-information campaigns of a few outspoken activists in town. But these activists in Town like Ernie Wetzel and the all present CPS contingent are now not the only activists in Town.
For the first time in Woodstock’s history, the Cafe has brought to the fore-front a different group of activists that are tired of Town mismanagement for the benefit of special interests and abuse of solid citizen volunteers on our Boards and Commissions. I am not talking about the mysterious manure mafia made infamous by Ernie Wetzel and recently targeted by Ms. Valentine in WINY. I am talking about special interests that undermine the foundation of the Town such as our school system which is supported by 70-75% of our tax dollars and the fundamental services that the Town provides with the remaining 25-30% of our tax dollars such as road maintenance, fire protection, and regulation of Town development and open-space planning. Two of these latter three Town services are under attack as I speak, not to mention the continuous attacks on our high performing public schools. These attacks are coming from a small few that have a personal vendetta against the school system, from people that simply don’t want to pay for the education of the children of the town, and from a contingent of Academy Trustees and supporters who see the public school system and its supporters as their fiscal enemy.
Leading up to the Democratic Primary, I had fully embraced the idea of running for First Selectman even though I realized the difficulty of getting 40% turnout to defeat Ms. Wholean and her Academy and CPS backers (primaries in Woodstock normally have <10% turnout). ‘Meghan’ pointed out that I was even considered as a possible Republican endorsed candidate. When it was clear that Mr. Sirrine was not going to be their candidate and because I thought and still think I could have won in the general election, I floated the idea to the RTC of their endorsement of me as their candidate. But that’s as far as it went. Now I am happy to announce that I will be the Democratic candidate for a position on the Board of Education along with another more highly qualified candidate, in Kevin Ford.
One of my concerns in running for the BOE position is that my Post-Hole Digger degree in Biochemistry and my long academic career at major universities and other learning institutions might disqualify me in the eyes of the voters. During my primary campaign I actually met voters who voiced concern about people with higher degrees from places like Harvard and Yale messing things up in our Town Boards and Commissions. These people were probably thinking of the needs of special interests in town.
The Cafe is not a unified activist organization because of the variety of divergent activist opinions that are expressed here. But there are two organized activist groups in Town that exist with negative missions. Take the Citizens for Prudent Spending for example. They state at their website the following mission:
“Our reason for being is to identify the failures of the past and make government work for every citizen, by correcting those failures and governing in a fiscally prudent manner, that does not break the backs of the taxpayers.”
While I might disagree with the grammar and negative wording of this mission statement, I can’t disagree with the message conveyed by the statement because I’ve said quite a bit of the same above and before. I guess what I do not understand is the true intent of CPS’s mission. It would be nice if Joe Klusek explained this mission since he is an active officer of CPS who speaks up at the Cafe.
It’s my impression based upon placement of campaign signs that Nora Valentine is the endorsed CPS candidate for First Selectman. Would CPS like to announce this endorsement, or is Nora Valentine some sort of decoy for their true endorsed candidate? Or would they prefer not to embarrass each other?
Take the other organized activist group, the Coalition whose mission might read something like this:
‘Our reason for being is to identify the failures of the past and make the Board of Education work for every citizen, by correcting those failures and governing in a fiscally prudent manner, that does not break the backs of the taxpayers or the Academy.” I can’t quote their actual mission statement because I have been attacked personally for entering their website.
So today activism in Woodstock is becoming more widespread and this is a positive development for Woodstock.
Approved by John Leavitt, Candidate for Board of Education of Woodstock, CT. This statement will be treated as an in-kind contribution for purposes of meeting requirements of Connecticut campaign finance laws. This article is paid for by John and Becki Leavitt, 515 Route 197, Woodstock, CT 06281 as administrators of www.woodstockctcafe.com.