Friday, April 25, 2008
Be an informed voter in this town election – no excuses
This year there should be no excuse for not knowing which candidates to vote for in the May 13 town election. If the voter has recovered from last week’s mostly uninformative ABC News debate between Clinton and Obama, it will be a relief to tune into CCTV Channel 8 to meet the Carlisle candidates, especially those running for contested seats on the Board of Selectmen, School Committee and Library Board of Trustees.
Besides observing the candidates delivering their reasons for running for office on TV, townspeople will be able to meet the candidates in person at the League of Women Voters Candidates Forum on Sunday, May 4, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Clark Room at Town Hall. And it is here that candidates will answer questions from the League, as well as those from members of the audience. For those unable to attend the Forum, a recording of the Candidates Forum will be shown on CCTV 8 during the week before the May 13 election. Go to www.lwvcc.com for times.
Here, in this week’s Mosquito, readers may turn to pages 7, 8, 9 and 10 for photographs of the candidates, and to learn of the experiences each has had which are relevant to the office that is sought, and the challenges that each expects to face once in office.
How will the Selectmen handle the fate of the Highland School Building or the new state 40B regulations for affordable housing? How can they help preserve open space and the rural character of the town, as well as first-rate schools, without letting property taxes explode? As the demographics in Carlisle change, how can ways be found to keep seniors in town?
How will new School Committee members deal with budget cuts and the possibility of teacher lay-offs? And what about the upkeep of the schools, both the schools in Carlisle and CCHS, which are in need of renovation or in some cases, replacement? Should community users of Carlisle School facilities be charged a larger fee?
The Gleason Public Library Trustees have several issues to deal with in the days ahead. First on their list will be how to stop the water from leaking in from the brick facade on the front of the building. A new trustee will also be involved in raising money for the Gleason Public Library endowment, setting library policies and rules and attracting all demographics to the library.
With more than two weeks to go before the election, there should be plenty of time and a variety of ways to become acquainted with the candidates running for office. There is no excuse for not knowing enough about each of the candidates and how to cast an educated ballot.
When T.S. Eliot, who had the curious double profession of being both banker and poet, wrote that “April is the cruelest month,” perhaps he had the IRS in mind. April does come with its share of surprises and disappointments – a glorious sunny day can easily be cut short by a snowstorm. April is the time when winter finally yields to spring, though reluctantly. It’s full of anticipation and promise, but it can just as easily give you a slap in the face. I suppose that’s part of the charm…you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen next.
April also brings us opening day at Fenway Park, inaugurating yet another baseball season. Like April, baseball is a metaphor for joy mixed with disappointment. Bart Giamatti (who, as president of Yale University, famously declared that “All I ever really wanted to be was president of the American League”) put it this way: “Baseball is designed to break your heart.” Black Bart (as he was affectionately known by his students at Yale) never did become president of the American League, but he did serve as Commissioner of Baseball for a time. However, he never did live to see the Red Sox win the World Series.
April figures prominently in the work of another poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who penned the famous lines that all school children can’t help but memorize: “On the eighteenth of April in Seventy-five/Hardly a man is now alive/Who remembers that famous day and year…” The story of Paul Revere’s ride and the first battle of the American Revolution is always worth retelling, as it reminds us of how we came to be what we are as a nation.
Speaking of which, like many others I’ve become hooked on the new HBO series that chronicles the life of John Adams. It’s much like a soap opera, and each Sunday evening my wife and I tune in to see what’s going to happen next. What new disappointment will beset John and Abigail this week, and how will they deal with the fallout? While we all know the basics of the Adams story from history class, the charm of this show is that it turns Adams into a real person, with all of the talents and foibles that attend the human condition. By all accounts he was irascible, unpleasant and stubborn, but he was also a brilliant political philosopher, a great strategist, a loving and devoted husband, and relentlessly fair, even to the point of defending (successfully) the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre. A believer that “people and nations are forged in the fires of adversity,” he almost seemed to enjoy his defeats and disappointments because he believed them necessary to achieve ever greater things. Adams was engaged in many a bitter political struggle, some of which cost him lifelong friends, including Thomas Jefferson.
For those who know their history, the political strife which attended the birth of our republic makes the antics of today’s presidential contenders seem mild by comparison. Maybe that’s because the Founders were much better writers than today’s journalists; they could skewer their opponents brilliantly and were not above taking certain liberties with the truth in doing so. Much to our good fortune, somehow it all worked out.
Which brings me back to April, the month of taxes, baseball, and Patriots Day. Wait long enough, and April turns into May. Fair warning, though…it’ll be back again next year.
© 2008 The