Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to show District 2 is a contested race. A previous version said none of the RTM districts is the election were contested.
DARIEN — Unlike 2016’s election, which saw high numbers of vacancies in several voting districts of the Representative Town Meeting, this year’s ballot has fewer holes.
Of the 58 open RTM spots across Darien’s six voting districts, 49 candidates are on the ballot, all of whom run without party affiliation. In 2016, there were more than 20 vacancies following the election of RTM members.
According to RTM Moderator Seth Morton, the smaller number of vacancies has to do with the quality of candidates that were chosen following last year’s election in district caucuses. Those appointed via caucus serve until the next election, as opposed to the full two-year term. However, many of those appointed as fill-ins have decided to stick around and their names will be found on the Nov. 7 ballot.
“You had people who came in and stayed,” Morton said. “It’s a difficult situation in the sense that everybody’s a volunteer and everybody’s working. Sometimes they say, ‘This is something I really want to do,’ and because of business or whatever and they just don’t have the time.”
In some districts, however, vacancies persist. District 4 is short four candidates, while Districts 1 and 5 are short two and three, respectively. District 2, on the other hand, is a contested race with nine candidates seeking eight seats.
Given that many RTM members were rookie politicians, Morton said he was encouraged at the performance of the town’s legislative body in the past year handling a large workload that included votes on the Darien High School football stadium lights, the acquisition of the Hecker Avenue parcel, and the approval of funding to complete the renovation of the Public Works garage.
“There’s a constant education process that goes on for new people coming in. What you say really matters and the decisions that the RTM makes affect the whole town,” Morton said. “They came in, they did the research, they got the work done.”
Morton is confident, too, that the vacancies following this election will be short lived and soon the 100-member group will be fully staffed.
“The most important thing is if there are vacancies that we make sure they’re filled out,” said Morton.