LETTER: New Resident Struggles to Find Out Who’s Running


To the Editor:

I moved to Watertown early this year, and am interested in participating in the election. Where does a new resident turn for information about candidates?

Naturally, the Town website should have some information … right? I have moved around a lot since graduating college, but it has never been so difficult to simply find out who the candidates are for my neighborhood. Expecting to find a large and conspicuous link on the Town’s website for voting information, the only link on the Town’s homepage is a small link under “Calendar of Events.” But this link has virtually no information. The Agenda link only brings you to another page with information about voting precincts. OK, now I know I’m in Precinct 2. Now I’m getting somewhere. But I still don’t know what my Town Council district is! There are no visible links anywhere on the Town’s website to find this information.

This leads me to ask, does the Town even want people to participate in elections? We all know that the turnout for municipal elections in most places is deplorable. Maybe this is an example of why people don’t bother to participate. When a tech savvy person has to spend 20 minutes searching around the Town website for basic information, they are likely to get frustrated and not bother to vote. Eventually, after digging through the “Document Center” directory, I was able to find the Town Council district map, showing me in District A. And by using the search bar, I was able to find the actual ballot.

Why can’t the Town put all of this information in one place, and make it easy for people? I believe that government works best when more people are involved and are educated about what’s going on in their community. Thank you for your coverage of the candidates and their positions, and for posting the Council district map for all to see. Next time I know to come straight to the Watertown News instead of wasting my time with the Town’s homepage.

Sam Scoppettone
Nichols Avenue

7 thoughts on “LETTER: New Resident Struggles to Find Out Who’s Running

  1. Hello Sam,
    Welcome to Watertown! Watertown Community Access Television has some good resources for viewing such as forums at http://wcatv.org/vod/candidate-forums/ and At-Large interviews at http://wcatv.org/vod/town-council-at-large-candidates/

    Also, the Town Clerk’s office is the best resource for voter information. You can call or visit them during normal business hours. I agree that the website is not the easiest to navigate, and I have heard similar feedback from others in the past. Either way, I hope to see you at the polls on Tuesday, November 3rd. I will be at the Hellenic Center on Bigelow Avenue (where District A votes) in the evening on election day and hope you will say hello.
    Michael Dattoli

  2. Hi Sam,
    You should also vote for School Committee candidates on Tuesday November 3. Please learn more about our school committee candidates at the http://wcatv.org/vod/school-committee-candidates/ (MY Video is the 4th one down!) 🙂 Please visit my site at http://www.candace4wps.com. Also, you can learn more about our parent effort to improve our public schools at http://www.watertownstrongschools.com. Finally, you can see the School Committee forums here at http://wcatv.org/vod/candidate-forums/. Happy Election Day!
    Candace Miller

  3. I am also relatively new to Watertown and the Pleasant Street corridor. I’m very well informed about international, national, MA and Boston politics but having some difficulty finding a place where I can easily compare the candidates for the various races in Watertown. Not having children makes finding information on the school committee candidates harder but no less important. I’ve moved here from states where we were encouraged to vote absentee so I always had my materials and ballot weeks and advance. Have not been to a polling place in 20+ years but will go on Tuesday.

  4. I concur: it’s difficult to glean information on what’s going on around town, and I’ve lived here since October 2001. Watertown News is fabulous. Charlie Breitrose is doing a bang-up job with that. But it’s also true that we now live in a digital age, and there ought to be far more going on to keep people informed. The problems associated with recent development could have been prevented (they’re garden-variety impacts, affecting traffic, air quality, and a lot more, as any city planner will tell you) had the town manager and councilors been more alert. They weren’t, they failed, and the rest of us are paying the price. (I say this as the daughter of a mayor, of a midwest capitol city, and as someone who’s worked on urban issues and institutional accountability for most of her life.) We’re now in an era wherein local government is being rejuvenated, which makes it all the more important to upgrade communications quality. These challenges needn’t involve full time jobs; that’s an old school approach to address needs. Still, something needs to be done. Let’s hope the dialogue continues after the election. There’s a lot of energy and goodwill out there, and it can be harnessed in service to the good, for everyone.

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