To the Editor:

In the spring of 2014, I wrote a letter to the editor asking the question, “Democracy, why bother?”

I asked this question after the Republican-led majority on the New Milford Board of Education voted to close the Pettibone School even though the residents of New Milford at the hearings were overwhelming in favor of keeping it open, or at least delaying the decision for a year.

As we have seen, the Republican-led Board of Education did one better this year by turning the school building over to the town without any discussion at a Board of Ed meeting.

So, as I revisit the question of why bother, the answer lies in the ability of democracy to give people a voice in their government.

It seems we have become a town where, over the past 12 years of a Republican-led majority, decisions are made without really listening to the voice of the people.

If the mayor, who is described as someone who listens to the people, really cared to listen, why wasn’t her voice heard on the Pettibone issue instead of just hiding behind the vote of the Board of Ed?

It leads one to think she already knew what the vote would be and approved of it.

It also seems a requirement needed to serve on a town board is a commitment to vote along party ideology, instead of what is best for the residents which that board represents.

When a party runs on the concept of let us finish what we started, I can’t help but think why did it take 12 years to finish projects that should have been done years ago?

One example are the turf fields for New Milford High School.

For a few years, a group of concerned parents wanted to put in turf fields. The answer was always no.

This year, the answer is yes and the money to pay for it, the Waste Management settlement, has been there for years. Why wasn’t it done sooner? I’ll let you connect the dots.

So I come back to my question of the spring of 2014. Democracy, why bother?

As I wrote back then, if we don’t bother, a few people behind closed doors will be telling us what to do with our lives.

This election needs to have the people of New Milford to get involved and ask questions.

Questions like, what is going on with the roof at Schaghticoke? Are there chemicals present that may affect the health of the students and adults in the building?

Why is there a feeling of “urban sprawl” without a plan for keeping the sense of a rural community that so many residents have appreciated while living here?

I’m sure many residents have their own questions to ask, instead of just feeling the apathy of “democracy, why bother.”

After reflecting on “why bother,” I have decided to run for the Board of Education on the Democratic ticket.

I’m not running to further the cause of the Democratic Party, but to be part of a party that will allow its candidates, if elected, to lead, compromise and collaborate with other board members in the best interests of the residents of this town.

I have been a teacher and coach for 41 years. As a young teacher I created a motto which guided my years in education.

The motto is: “Education is planting the seeds of knowledge for a lifetime of harvesting.”

This is what the goal of all the stakeholders in our educational system should be focusing on. Not party ideology, not hidden agendas, or a mistrust between the stakeholders.

I’m hoping to be elected to the Board of Education to help further this goal.

More importantly, I’m hoping every New Milford resident becomes involved in this year’s election. Ask questions, learn about the candidates, and, most importantly, vote.

For the gift of democracy is the ability of its citizens to have a voice in how they are governed.

Let’s not throw it away by thinking “Democracy, why bother”?

Bill Dahl