Cynthia Greco moved to Newtown eight years ago, and will not be voting in today’s budget referendum. “We moved here from Mount Vernon, NY, and we are so happy to be in a safe environment. If taxes go up, it’s still worth it.”
Greco noted that taxes in New York can easily exceed $15,000 for a house in a dangerous neighborhood. “Here you can go for a walk day or night and feel safe. People don’t know how good they have it, or how bad it could be,” she said.
There are other reasons some Newtowners may abstain from visiting the polls. Newtown resident and Jehovah Witness John Shannon said, “ We don’t take part in politics,” he said. “We believe the kingdom of Jehovah will take care of us all.”
While many were interviewed, those who said they would vote were not always willing to share their position. Ginny Chion, who sat in the dimly lit Newtown Youth Academy, working on the Light the Night event coming up in September, simply said, “If you don’t vote, don’t complain.”
Runner Tom Lutz said he had voted in every referendum, and today would be no exception. I have been here a long time, and I have seen a lot of changes. This is an important budget. The whole discussion points to those who haven’t had raises in a long time, or who aren’t well off financially. It’s an important discussion," Lutz said.
Around the local region, voters are taking a stand like never before. In Bethel, the referendum to take down a 1960s building affectionately called Old Town Hall will be held next week. The original decision to tear down the building had been made by the Board of Selectmen, who cited their reasons and their right within the Town Charter to make such a decision.
However, a group called the Bethel Action Committee, led by the town’s notorious activist Billy Michael, gathered more than 500 signatures that had little to do with whether or not the building would be torn down. Instead, the petition cited the fact that the Selectman made a decision without consulting the people.
In Brookfield, The Conservation Commission had suggested a dog park on land that had been restricted to passive recreation. While many residents were not against a dog park in general, an ensuing referendum had an 18 percent voter turnout, with the majority of NO vote overwhelming the yes by three to one.
Has the Tea Party idea swept the area? Have residents had enough of decisions being made for them? Pat Bailey, Newtown resident of 43 years, believes that may be the case.
“Most of us are conservative,” Bailey said, referring to herself and friends. “We are tired of being promised taxes will go down. When politicians want to get re-elected they say they’ll lower taxes. We just feel that times are bad right now, there are so many vacant houses. There are two right across from me.”
Bailey believes that there just may be something to this whole tea party idea. When asked if she would be voting no against taxes being raised, she answered, that for her, it was less about the money and more about the principle. “This is a form of protest,” she said.