Silence — that’s what Darien gets from its Democratic state representatives.
A controversial state budget has been rolled out with drastic cuts to state aid that are only rivaled by the increase in what Darien and its similar neighbors will have to pay out.
Decisions in education aid to our students are being made simply by how fiscally well-managed and how wealthy of a town they live in.
Where is the fairness? What is the justification? Where is the accountability of Darien’s state legislators that represent the majority party that continues to make decisions that negatively affect their constituents?
None of them will return one single inquiry asking for their comments from The Darien Times. Fair enough, you say. They don’t owe a newspaper a return call, even when it’s one their constituents read. Maybe so.
They also don’t return calls to Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, or often include State Rep. Terrie Wood in discussions, a Republican who also represents Darien, as per statements last week. Further, some of them opt to block Darien residents from their social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook. Why? Because these residents criticized them.
Getting criticized is part of the job of an elected official. Being responsive to town leadership elected by the majority of your Darien constituents is also part of the job.
In the best possible interpretation of this silence, we can believe that State Rep. William Tong, Sen. Carlo Leone, and Sen. Bob Duff endorse this new budget philosophically. We are all entitled to our opinions. And who more than those elected to public office are beholden to make decisions that are true to their own deeply held convictions?
Part of it can be the combined towns they represent. The new budget is certainly more favorable to Stamford and Norwalk, with whom Darien shares state representation. The areas of constituency in those municipalities also carry Duff, Tong and Leone to election victories whether they win in Darien or not.
It is a challenge Darien faces that most of its similar neighbors don’t. Towns like New Canaan, Wilton, Weston, Easton and Ridgefield, for the most part, share state reps with towns of similar demographics and concerns.
Darien’s co-constituencies are significantly different in every category by which this state government determines financial and policy decisions by town.
So these state legislators can argue they support the policies that favor their larger constituencies. Understandable? Maybe. But the problem arises when there are no answers for Darien, and what can be perceived as fairly zero interest to try to provide explanations.
The worst possible interpretation of the silence is that these state legislators are simply carrying out the agenda put forth by their majority party and governor, and therefore don’t have any real explanation or justification to provide.
And since they don’t need Darien’s votes to win elections, maybe there’s no benefit to them to answer these hard questions or explain their decisions.
So for the record, here are the questions we’d like answered:
- Do you support this budget and the cuts made to Darien’s state aid, and the additions to Darien’s state financial obligations? If so, why?
- Do you think this budget is fair to Darien? If so, why? If not, why are you supporting it?
Perhaps another alternative is for Darien to petition the state legislature for a redistricting of at least one of these districts — maybe to share one with New Canaan. Perhaps then Darien would be served by more than one out of four on the state level that takes its wants and needs into account.
Being a public servant means you serve all of the public you represent, not just the public that votes for you, agrees with you or applauds your actions and agenda.
Sen. Duff, Sen. Leone, and Rep. Tong — whether you need us or not, Darien not only needs your accountability, it deserves it.