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Mendon Musings

All's well in Mendon. How else can you characterize the lack of contested races in the next month's town election?

If no one is challenging any incumbent, it must mean that everyone's happy with the status quo.

Funny... When property tax bills were issued, I heard an awful lot of complaints about how the school override drove bills sky-high. At the recent Special Town Meeting, there was a lot of resentment about the town administrator's raise. But, no one ran for office.

The publisher of this newspaper frequently points out that "they" don't seem to teach civics anymore. My two cents on top of his is that democracy is not a spectator sport. You have to get involved to change things.

But, we're all busy with work and our kids and someone else can do it. Or, we don't like the idea of local politics, because it's messy and full of lying back-stabbers. Someone might verbally attack us.

And so, we get the government we deserve.

I was thinking about my father the other day and the others who made what journalist Tom Brokaw called "The Greatest Generation." When my father learned his only cousin had been killed in Saipan, he quit school and enlisted in the Navy. He never missed an opportunity to vote in any local, state or federal election. As a senior citizen, he ran for – and won – an elected Town Meeting Member seat in Shrewsbury (like Milford, it has a representative town meeting, not an open one like Mendon and Upton).

Since his passing, I often ask myself, "What would Frank do?" I know that Frank would have looked at the lack of candidates and say the town is getting what it deserves.

That's not to say that the incumbents are bad people or doing a bad job. But when no one runs against them, it sends a message that no one's unhappy with what they're doing. A challenger can keep an incumbent on his or her toes.

Local elections typically don't descend to the level of rancor like we're seeing at the national level. Millions of dollars aren't spent on campaigns. At the local level, it's more of an "I think I can do that better" idea that gets people to run.

But, I guess it's easier to sit back and complain than actually do something about it. Right?


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