To The Editor:
I submit this letter in direct response to the editorial by State Rep. Whit Betts on Friday, May 28. The people of Bristol deserve accurate information, so I’d like to shed some light and answer some of the questions that Mr. Betts has asked for help with.
Betts references the 2013 election where Bristol residents voted to install term limit language into the city charter. He contends that eight years have passed and this is now suddenly being questioned by local Democrat officials. This is far from the truth. A simple Google search of “Bristol Connecticut Term Limits” shows that the validity of that vote was challenged by formal Democratic Mayoral candidate Chris Wilson in 2013, in 2016, and again in 2018. This is now the fourth time this issue has been addressed in eight years. Facts matter. There is nothing sudden about this,
What is different between now and then? In 2013 our Republican city attorney ignored advice and the referendum went on the ballot. For perspective, in the same year, Democrats campaigning for municipal office in New Haven pushed an agenda of term limits for Mayor and City Council. They received the same information that we did, understood that they didn’t have the authority, and moved on. Bristol pushed it through. That’s how we got here. However, now we have a 22-page opinion from Connecticut's top municipal attorney advising that if an elected official challenges the term limit language we have in our charter, Bristol could be in for a long and expensive court battle. You would think that the “fiscally conservative” Republicans would want to avoid that at all cost. Obviously, not.
The simple truth is that the Republican administration in 2013 put a vote on the ballot and changed our charter without the authority to do so. Mr. Betts and Jeff Caggiano are trying to “villainize” our current Mayor for attempting to correct another mistake from the [Ken] Cockayne era.
Betts mentions his prior advocacy for term limits at the state level and points fingers at Democrats for his failure to even get a public hearing. In 2019 Rep. Betts championed term limits. He is on record as saying that State Rep should not be a career and that five terms/10 years is plenty. That was 2019. In 2020, he decided his own bill proposal applied to everyone but himself and ran for his sixth term and is currently serving his eleventh year as a State Representative. 2021, back to supporting term limits. Either Betts himself doesn’t really support the term limits he speaks of or his stance is as hypocritical as anything we've come to expect out of our Republican officials. Do as we say, not as we do.
Finally, Mr. Betts asks how the outcome of this lies at the hands of our Republican representation in Hartford. The attorney makes it clear that we need the state legislature to grant Bristol the Special Act privilege. Three of our four representatives in the state legislature are Republicans. If you are just finding out that the job of a State Representative is to find the needs of your community and then deliver state resources, what have you been doing for 11 years?
Morris "Rippy" Patton
Bristol Democratic Town Committee