With Election Day less than two weeks away, a Dwight homeowner brought together community leaders and neighbors for a roundtable discussion about the Nov. 8 poll — and the importance of voting every year.
This crash course in election-focused civics took place Wednesday night at Amistad Academy on Edgewood Avenue.
Massachusetts owner The Community Builders (TCA), which owns the large subsidized Dwight-Kensington apartment complex known as Kensington Square, hosted the town hall in a bid to register and educate residents ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.
On this year’s ballot, there will be contested races for all of Connecticut’s constitutional offices, including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, secretary of state and treasurer. Connecticut voters will also be able to vote in contests for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, State Senate, State House and Probate Judge. And they will face a ballot question about whether or not Connecticut should allow early voting.
After grabbing a bite of free pizza and cookies, about a dozen residents listened to a panel discussion moderated by West River community activist Stacy Spell, aimed at explaining the election process and encouraging members to exercise their right. of democratic voting.
The panel was the third in a series of election-focused events organized by TCA to Dwight. TCA also invited the League of Women Voters to help with voter registration and education.
“We want to provide opportunities for residents to get involved in their community to connect them to the resources that exist in their community,” TCA Senior director of community life Anne Vinick told the Independent. “Especially now that [we’re] in just a few short weeks, voter registration is so important, motivating and energizing the community to make their voices heard.
Wednesday evening’s panel included Board of Alders Chair Tyisha Walker-Myers, Fair Haven Community Management Team Co-Chair Lee Cruz, Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund Community Organizing Director Jennifer Perez Caraballo, School of Democracy Representative Sandra Okonofua, and Elm City Community Policy Officer Will Viederman.
Panelists discussed when and why they first voted, as well as which races in the state residents should care about.
“Wow, that really sticks out with me,” laughed Cruz while answering one of Spell’s questions. “But, I voted for the first time in 1980. I had wanted to vote for McGovern in ‘72, but I couldn’t.
Panelists also talked about the constitutional amendment on Connecticut’s ballot this year, asking voters if the state should allow early voting.
“Each race is important for different reasons,” Perez Caraballo told participants. “We do not have guaranteed holidays. We don’t have guaranteed paid sick time for everybody so in the state of Connecticut we absolutely have to be able to vote early right and so it’s a big question that they pose, especially since Connecticut is only one of four states that don’t have early voting.
For Spell, moderating the panel was an opportunity to involve more people from his community in the process, saying the more people involved, the more power the neighbors would have in the political process.
“Some of our residents, especially black and brown residents, never voted,” Spell told this reporter.
“It’s time people didn’t bury their heads in the sand when we have issues in our community that need to be addressed. And the only way to solve these problems is to make them realize the importance of their role and to be part of the political process.
TCA began outreach for the event with the League of Women’s Voters, who provided contact with many of the panelists as well as LWV organizers to help residents register to vote and educate themselves.
About a dozen Dwight residents attended the panel to listen and ask questions not only about this year’s election, but also about the operation of the city’s Board of Alders and their responsibilities to voters.
“I came here to learn and better understand my community and how to get more involved in the process,” Delisa Tolson, owner of a daycare center on Kensington Street, told The Independent.