Westport’s RTM is not exactly brimming with exciting races this political season. Of our 9 districts, only 4 have more candidates than available seats.
But in District 1 there’s a guy who so wants to be elected, he’s conducting a write-in campaign.
Marty Bell never thought of running. In fact, despite living here since 1983, he has been active in — by his own admission — “zero town events.”
That’s not to say he’s a slacker. A businessman (and Vietnam vet), he’s involved in a variety of efforts to bring new jobs to Connecticut. But his political experience is nada.
Nevertheless, after the filing deadline he was approached by 3 RTM members, plus someone on a town board. All asked him to run.
He was flattered. And promptly said no.
But — like any good businessman — he did his due diligence. He learned that the RTM (the Representative Town Meeting, for those of you with the same political involvement as Bell) has “influence and approval powers,” but no legal jurisdiction.
That appealed to him. “I want to influence things — not change them,” he says.
Ballots have already been printed, so Bell’s task is to get his name in front of district voters. He’s designing a brochure, and will give it people he knows. He hopes they’ll pass it along to others.
“It’s a mathematical gamble,” he says. “But I want to be the voice of positive change.”
Founded more than 50 years ago, the RTM is a vestige of New England’s old “town meeting” tradition. We’ve outgrown that “Our Town”-type government, but we haven’t moved on to something as bureaucratic as a town council.
Throughout Connecticut, RTMs are endangered species. Yet we hold fiercely to ours.
And — at least in one district — one man feels a sudden urge to be part of our representative democracy.
Even if his name must be written in by hand, the old-fashioned way.
(Want to know what RTM district you’re in? Click here.)