But before Westbrook Republicans get their panties in a bunch, let me qualify that I'm describing him with the small-d connotation and not reporting that when he runs for re-election next November (as he said he will), he will do so on the Democratic ticket. I am, in other words, describing how the mayor's administration has greatly expanded Westbrook residents' access to municipal government.
There is, of course, his, uh, scintillating call-in show he hosts each month on the ratings juggernaut that is Local Access television. But more important, BruChu continues to open his office for three hours on the first Saturday of each month. And back in February, he began hosting informal public hearings in each municipal ward, one of which I attended last week.
When I arrived in one of the cafeterias at Wescott Junior High School last Tuesday evening to attend the mayor's meeting with Ward 1, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people in attendance. I had expected about a half-dozen attendees, so I was heartened by the appearance of about fifteen fellow
On the first Saturday of each month, Mayor Chuluda opens his office from 9a-12p and welcomes all comers. There isn't a secretary screening participants or a receptionist explaining a conflict of scheduling. You simply show up, and if the mayor's not already talking with another visitor, you walk into his office and let him know what's up. According to Chuluda, some show up to chew the spruce gum. And others visit his office to bend his ear about, say, the cavernous potholes plaguing their street. What's important, though, is that the highest elected official in the city is available to listen to concerns, recommendations, and feedback.
And what's equally important is that residents become more involved in that give-and-take.
- John C.L. Morgan