So now then…

FI-EditorialWell, another Election Day has come and gone and, strangely enough, the sun still came up on Wednesday just as it did on Tuesday, no matter who won. And that’s an excellent reminder that it’s time to get to work.

It was to the surprise of no one that First Selectman Peter Tesei and Selectmen David Theis and Drew Marzullo will make up the Board of Selectmen again. The three have functioned as an excellent team for four years and there should be the utmost confidence that they will do so through the next two. And while the Democrats running for the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) gave it a valiant effort, the sheer number of Republicans registered to vote in Greenwich was too steep a mountain to climb and Republicans retained control of the board with ease.

What that actually means in terms of the town budget and the spending levels will not be clear until the next few months have passed. It’s also unclear if the Board of Education election means tempers among board members can now cool. But what’s most intriguing is considering what could be ahead for town government if Mr. Tesei makes good on a campaign pledge.

Mr. Tesei said he’d look at calling for a charter reform commission, the first one since 2002. Mr. Tesei called this commission “overdue,” and he’s right. It’s been far too long since Greenwich’s government got a once-over to see what’s working and what can be improved. A commission can do that and recommend anything from a four-year term for the first selectman to whether town departments like the tax collector’s office should be operated as they currently are. Or perhaps it might recommend nothing at all.

All sides should get behind the idea of a charter reform commission. It would be a mistake to start changing Greenwich’s government just for the sake of change, but there’s no reason to oppose evaluating how government can work better. And there’s a lot to be said for allowing voters more choice when it comes to selecting members of the BET and the Board of Education.

Increased competition for these vital boards can create better candidates and more issue-oriented elections instead of just having the Republican and Democratic town committees make the choices for the voters. Town Democrats will likely oppose taking away the balance arrangement that has the boards split evenly between the parties, but there are other changes that can be looked at.

There’s no good reason, other than political games, for parties to run only the exact number of candidates there are for open seats. On the BET we had six candidates for six spots, leaving voters to decide only what party platform they liked more and not what individuals would best represent their financial interests. For the Board of Education, Democrats had choice pushed on them despite voting not to provide it, and Republicans reversed course from two years ago, when choice was a good thing, showing this principle can be altered however needed to best knock off whichever board member has displeased party leadership.

Fortunately in both parties petition candidates gave voters the chance to decide whom they wanted. But it shouldn’t take that. Perhaps a real charter reform would be for party politics to be eliminated from this and for people  to run not as Republicans or Democrats but as individuals, letting voters decide which candidates will do the best job managing the schools and town finances based on their experience and ideas and not due to party loyalty.

That’s something that should be looked at. There’s a lot of work to be done and there’s no time like the present to get started on it.

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