To the Editor:
Recently, over 100 candidate petitions for the Representative Town Meeting were delivered to Town Hall. Almost all of them were submitted by members of the Republican Town Committe and thee far-right Greenwich Patriots. In fact, the latter even bragged about it in an email blast saying it was “Great to see so many new names and so many Patriots on this list!”. With this unprecedented move, these groups are looking to inject their extremist agenda into the policy making body of our local government, making it a clear and present danger to the proper functioning of our municipal legislative infrastructure. This should concern residents of all political persuasions.
This effort is what former Trump advisor Steve Bannon labeled the “precinct strategy” and it is happening in real time, in our community.
In 2021, after former President Trump’s failure to overturn the 2020 election and the insurrection at the US Capitol Building, Mr. Bannon outlined his strategy for remaking the Republican Party and eventually the entire government, from the ground up. A ProPublica article summed it up. “The solution, was to seize control of the GOP from the bottom up. Listeners of his podcast should flood into the lowest rung of the party structure: the precincts. “It’s going to be a fight, but this is a fight that must be won, we don’t have an option. We’re going to take this back village by village … precinct by precinct.””
In January 2022, the first component of this plan was put into effect in Greenwich when the local far-right took over the Greenwich Republican Town Committee. This effort was conducted in secrecy and took advantage of the historically low turnout at RTC caucuses. It was chronicled in a New York Times piece last November.
That event subsequently produced historically poor results at the ballot box for local Republicans as they lost all three local representative seats to the State House (for the first time) and saw their endorsed statewide candidates lose by wider margins than usual in last November’s midterm elections. Since then the RTC has doubled down on their losing strategy and now they are attempting to implement the same game plan with respect to the RTM. However, this effort poses a significantly greater risk for local residents than the takeover of the RTC because it is the RTM that sets policy and can approve or reject expenditures for the town.
The Greenwich Representative Town Meeting is made up of 230 elected representatives and is the third largest legislative body in the United States. It is based on the old New England Town Meeting style of decentralized local government and its strength is rooted in the collaborative nature of its members.
If successful, this extremist, MAGA takeover of the RTM will mean less funding for public schools and critical town services and will guarantee that divisive rhetoric and a lack of decorum will become the norm in our town legislature. This will also undoubtedly discourage more civically minded citizens from running to serve their community in the RTM in the future. Hence why this is so important and why it should concern us all.
Most residents are unfamiliar with how our local government works. We all have busy lives and taking time to focus on local government in these divisive times is hard to do. This letter to the editor is intended to bring this very important information into the light of day and to inform the public of its significance. What we see happening in the US Congress, where a small number of far-right Republicans have held that body hostage will happen right here in Greenwich. The difference will be, they will have a majority in the RTM, unless people vote against them.
This coup of our local legislature by these groups will result in our town policy being directed by the extreme elements of one political party. This will not serve the best interests of the residents of Greenwich. This is very important and we hope everyone pays close attention to it as we approach the upcoming municipal elections on November 7th.
Stephanie Cowie, Jeremy Kostin, Arline Lomazzo, Jaysen Medhurst, Skip Parker, Dan Quigley, Steve Rubin, James Waters
The writers describe themselves as “a coalition of registered Republican, Democrat and undecided voters.“