When voters go to the polls in towns all over Connecticut next Tuesday, many won't just be selecting municipal officials; a myriad of ballot questions and initiatives will also be up for their consideration. Sometimes these questions can have just as great an impact on the city/town and its future as elected officials. Ballot questions usually take one of two forms:
This is the most common sort of ballot question. If a town needs a lot of money for a project, in many cases the town charter will require that a referendum be held on the matter. The November elections are often the best time to hold these referenda, because the town won't have to spend extra money on another election.
Big projects like road reconstruction, new municipal facilities (this can include buildings like schools, firehouses, town halls, etc.) and large-scale economic development often end up as ballot questions.
The second type of ballot question has to do with the way the town is governed. Some towns, like Bristol, want to tweak the way government functions. Others, like Stonington, could change it altogether.
Small changes to town government, like redrawing district boundaries, imposing term limits or changing the number of signatures required to force a referendum on an issue, are not uncommon. Wholesale changes, like Stonington's proposal to scrap the selectmen/town meeting form of government in favor of the more stable and apolitical but less democratic council/manager form of government, are much more rare and generate a lot more controversy.
What interesting ballot questions do you know about?