Republicans Sit Here, Democrats Over There

The State of Connecticut utilizes a Representative Town Meeting process to make community decisions. Brantford Connecticut a town with a population of 29,000 residents, has 30 elected representatives that make town decisions. The seating arrangement for the Brantford Representative Town Meeting (RTM) currently consists of Democrats sitting on one side of the room (to the left) and Republicans on the other side of the room (to the right).

Republican member Ray Ingraham has suggested that the seating arrangement be changed so that members sit by district number instead of party affiliation. Some members have expressed concern that sitting people by party affiliation makes town decisions revolve around partisanship and not the merits of an issue.

Former RTM member Jamie Cosgrove stated “It seemed to be more party numbers,” he said of the final decision that some RTM members made. “We’re talking about town government. Your votes should be in the best interest of the town.”

Democratic member Douglas Hanlon also supported the seating arrangement proposal and stated “We should be willing to try anything that makes the room seem less polarizing,” .

Opposing the change was Branford Police Commissioner Kurt Schwanfelder, who served on the RTM from 1985 to 2003, who stated “I’m sorry. Republicans are Republicans and the Democrats are Democrats. You don’t put them together,”

Fortunately it appears that there is a willingness among many Brantford RTM members to change the partisan seating arrangement. Perhaps it is just me, but I do not get having partisan debates at the local level of government. What do you think, should party affiliation determine how elected officials are seated for government meetings?

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Corey McCarren

I definitely agree with you. I’m not a huge fan of partisanship regardless, and on such a local level it seems especially petty. Just by sitting across from one another based on party they are creating a more hostile atmosphere and will inevitably get less done.