Thursday, January 31, 2008

Oh, NO! 0-8!: It's a Family Affair...

Speaking of families, its talk of Clinton families, Kennedy families, and your family at the Kodak theater in Los Angeles. At time of this writing, the remaining viable Democratic candidates, Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, are currently debating for the first time one-on-one and for the last time before Super Tuesday.

Today's family is more local, however. On the surface, this may seem like a thing against a politically connected family, but it is rather just a "Huh?" on behalf of Tuesday's Democratic voters and independents voting in the Democratic primary.

Absentee ballots for Ward 6 (approximately Forest Park and southwestern East Forest Park, see ward map) include a slate of
candidates for the Ward 6 Democratic Committee. These committees exist in all communities. Cities like Springfield have wards while towns have townwide committees. These committees represent the interest of the ward and town in the Massachusetts arm of the Presidential primary process.

Groups of candidates are listed together. One such cluster includes a number of Walshes. These are of City Councilor Kateri Walsh's family. Yes there are dozens of Walshes in Springfield. Indeed two other Walshes are on the ballot. However, five are of 42 Magnolia Terrace, where,
according to the municipal website, Councilor Walsh lives. Of the five, two are Kateris. Although, WMassP&I does not know the names of all of Councilor Walsh's children, one can only assume that the second Kateri is her daughter. Kateri B. is the Councilor. The other Walshes include Mary Alicia, Michael, and Daniel, ostensibly, her husband. As for the other two Walshes, WMassP&I gives the benefit of the doubt.

Now as a prominent member of the Democratic Party in Springfield with a history in the public arena, it is not unreasonable or inappropriate for her to be on such a committee. Her husband, who by all accounts is equally important in the Springfield Democratic Party, is also a valid choice. However, given that the rules call for 35 slots on the ward committee and there are far less than 35 candidates, it all but assures that all of the Magnolia Walshes will win.

Admittedly, this is not a huge deal. The ward committees do not possess incredible power and the voters on Tuesday will dictate the terms of the state's delegation, not the committees. WMassP&I feels, however, as a supporter of the Democratic party, that because ours is a party of inclusion, there needs to be other voices than that of just one family, even in as minor, even vestigial, an institution as this.

As a person who advocates the symbolism of representative democracy being restored to Springfield, Councilor Walsh does a disservice to her party and her fellow Democrats, by filling the vacuum of interest with her family rather than recruiting party members to fill the gaps.

--Editors note: First I acknowledge the self-serving nature of this appeal, coupled with this entry, but I make it anyway. With 24 pre-printed candidates and 35 slots to fill, I ask my fellow Democrats of Ward 6 to write in "Matthew Szafranski" as a candidate. The preceding entry is designed to make voters think [gasp], not to cast aspersions on Councilor Walsh. Certainly, if elected, I would look forward to work with her and hers on the Ward 6 Democratic committee.

AND THERE YOU HAVE IT FOLKS! My first political pandering! Enjoy it while it lasts because it isn't likely to happen again soon.


Bill Dusty said...

Hey Matt -

If the nepotism of the local Democratic Party's got ya down, there's always room for new folks in the Republican Party. And hey - we're inclusive, too - despite the propaganda. So come on over to the Big Tent ;-)

Matt S. said...

I appreciate the offer, Bill, but it will take more than the local party (and its nepotism) to get me down. Plus how does one change anything if not from within?