A recent letter to the editor in the Hopkinton Independent urged Hopkintonians to vote “no” on Article 2, a measure to be considered in the upcoming Special Town Meeting on Nov. 13. I understand the author’s concerns about the potential elimination of local caucuses, and I appreciate the perspective she shared. However, I would like to offer a different viewpoint on the matter of eliminating local Democratic and Republican caucuses in Hopkinton.
The writer wrote that local caucuses play an important role in helping get more candidates on the ballot, but what she does not illuminate are the unintended consequences of this. For instance, candidates who do not secure enough signatures during the nomination process (or decide not to collect any signatures at all) may be using the caucuses as a workaround or shortcut to the ballot. This deprives voters of the opportunity to get to know each candidate, and it enables political parties to insert candidates who have not done the legwork to earn a place on the ballot.
The writer further states that indicating a candidate’s party affiliation on the ballot provides additional information to voters. While that’s certainly the case, it’s worth noting that party labels can also be limiting. Voters might be inclined to make their decisions based solely on party affiliation rather than considering a candidate’s individual qualifications and positions. This is known as “down-ballot” voting, and I suspect this was the case in May’s contested School Committee election. Newcomer Susan Stephenson, who was virtually unknown in Hopkinton, received slightly fewer votes than Adam Munroe, who is well known in town. Both were the Democratic caucus nominees.
Regarding the argument that eliminating caucuses won’t stop people from arguing about politics, that’s certainly true. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the existence of political parties can also be a point of contention and may contribute to division within the community. We in Hopkinton don’t have to follow the national paradigm. We should be more concerned about what’s best for Hopkinton rather than holding steadfast to party dogma.
There are 351 towns and cities in Massachusetts, and of those, only 13 continue to allow partisan elections at the local level. The rest have done away with the practice. At Special Town Meeting, let’s come together to reduce the number to 12. I urge you to vote “yes” on Article 2.
— John Cardillo, Hopkinton (a sponsor of the article along with Ed Harrow)
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