Saturday Buzz | Politics or Government?
What's the difference?
Happy Weekend, folks.
When I embarked upon this unwitting experiment back in January, my first words were, “I never much saw the use in voting in local elections or becoming involved in local politics.” Thereafter, I began posting daily ruminations and profiles that I called, for convenience, “politics posts.”
I might have mentioned I was on BCAT’s show, Something to Talk About, the other night talking with host Linda McNamee. A lot of really interesting questions came up, and I now have a stockpile of about 20 podcast and newsletter ideas, but the question sticking in my head right now is whether the Buzz is about more than just politics.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on this topic, and I’ve come to realize this project was never about politics at all.
My only goal when I set out on this journey was to inform and engage you, my neighbors. I will never stop talking about our abysmally low voter turnout rates (16.5% for the last 3 years running!), and that is the factor that got me thinking about how little I knew about the way our town works and how hard it can be to find out information, especially - and this is important - when you don’t know what you’re looking for.
I wanted to find a way to bring the information to eligible voters, to answer the question of “why should I care about local elections?” And the answer has nothing to do with politics.
During local elections, we vote on the people who set the budgets for our departments and establish, enforce, and change laws in our town - laws that determine how much we pay in taxes, what kinds of amenities are available, how businesses are held accountable for handling their waste, and about a bajillion other things. Tell me one thing you care about, and I bet I can find a bylaw or commission that governs it.
Do you enjoy open spaces? Then you’ll care who is on our Conservation Commission. Do you care about preventive community health? Board of Health is the place to go. Do you care about the quality of our water? The Select Board is responsible for that. And the list goes on and on.
Local government (notice I said nothing about politics) has a tremendous effect on the lives of Burlington residents, and currently only 16.5% of us have any influence over who represents us in local government. Additionally, many of our government seats are either uncontested or, worse, open - meaning there aren’t even enough candidates to fill the seats we have.
I want you to know what these aspects of town government are responsible for, so you can see why you should care about these elected positions. And then I want you to vote in these races, and I want some of you to pay enough attention to see how you could contribute in these areas. I want to see all seats in our town contested.
That’s democracy, but it’s not politics.
Things to get excited about
There are some upcoming candidate events, and the Candidate Websites page has been updated! Be sure to check the candidate websites & social media pages for information about meet & greets, town halls, and other opportunities to get to know your candidates.
Bring me to Burlington is a website run by the Economic Development Department geared toward informing people who are interested in living in, working in, or visiting Burlington. It’s got information and updates and even a newsletter!
There will be a 24-hour challenge to benefit the TACP association, supporting active duty and retired veterans, on April 2-3 from noon to noon at BHS.
An update from Barbara L’Heureux and the Sculpture Park Committee:
The Burlington Community is AMAZING! So many people came together to help the artist Nikita Zigura and his family. I want to thank:
Bob Buckley, Reimer and Braunstein
AFC Urgent Care
The Dan Fahey Foundation
...the over 100 community members who rallied together to raise $14,000 in less than a week.
I am so proud to be a part of this community with YOU!
There are plenty of other ways to help, both at home and abroad. Let me know if you need any information!
Last but certainly not least, Daylight Savings is tonight. Don’t blame the messenger.
See you tomorrow for a look at the week ahead.