Candidates who gain a party endorsement are guaranteed a spot on the ballot, while candidates who do not gain an endorsement can only get on the ballot by collecting enough signatures to force a primary election. This control of ballot access is the most important function of the Democrat and the Republican Town Committees.
Each Town Committee has formed a nominating subcommittee which is interviewing potential candidates, and representatives of each party have told The Eye that they would like to see everyone who is is considering running for either board or commission submit a letter of intent.
Republicans interested in running for office should send an email to Bill Wilson, the Chair of the Republican Town Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org, or RTC, PO Box 1121, Middletown, by July 9th. The full town committee will vote on endorsements at its July 19th meeting.
Democrats interested in running for office should send an email to Democratic Town Committee, currently chaired by Sal Nesci: email@example.com. Letters of intent should be received by June 28th, at 6PM. The full town committee will vote on endorsements at its July 20th meeting.
This year the following will be on the ballot:
- Planning and Zoning Commission, regular commissioner. 3 positions open.
Because of State rules that restrict the minimum number of commissioners from the minority party, only 1 Democrat could be seated, while up to 3 Republicans could be seated (of the 4 regular commissioner seats not up for election until 2019, 3 are currently held by Democrats and 1 is held by a Republican).
- Planning and Zoning Commission, alternate commissioner. 1 position open.
Because of State minority representation rules, this seat can only be filled with a Republican (both of the 2 alternate commissioner seats not up for election until 2019 are currently held by Democrats).
- Board of Education. 4 positions open.
Because of State minority representation rules, only 2 Democrats can be seated, while up to 4 Republicans could be seated (of the 5 Board of Education seats not up for election until 2019, 4 are currently held by Democrats).
Each party plans to endorse the maximum number of candidates for each position. This can sometimes make it hard to recruit candidates, especially for the Democratic Party, when the minority party representation rules preclude someone actually being seated. Sometimes the parties submit names of party loyalists who are not interested in serving. Other times the parties submit names of people interested and capable of serving, knowing that vacancies frequently occur on Planning and Zoning or Board of Education, and the person appointed to fill a vacancy is customarily someone who was on the ballot in the previous election. In addition, persons who have been on the ballot this year will have a substantial advantage in the 2019 election, when there will be 4 vacancies on Planning and Zoning, and 5 on the Board of Education.
Disclosure: The author is currently Chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, and is seeking an endorsement from the Democratic Town Committee to run for re-election. Four years ago he unsuccessfully sought a party endorsement, and gained ballot access through the primary process.