Fifteen registered Norton Democrats filled Norton High School’s colorfully decorated library on Thursday night to hold a caucus. Amidst inspirationally painted ceiling tiles created by artistically inclined high school students, Norton’s active democrats proceeded to elect seven delegates to contribute to the representation of the Bristol and Norfolk Senatorial District at the Senatorial Convention this upcoming fall.
At 6:45 p.m., attendees began to file into Norton High’s Library for the caucus. Those interested in being elected were permitted to invite friends and neighbors to attend and lend them their vote, provided they had been registered democrats since at least the 31st of December. However, a lack of interest in political involvement within the community prevents this from occurring, said caucus chair Martha J. Mitchell.
“We expect 11 or 12 people to show up,” said Mitchell, when asked before the event about anticipated attendance. “We expect four to eight registered democrats to be willing [to be elected as delegates]. We are allotted seven delegates and three alternates, but we rarely get enough people to show up.”
Though more people attended than were expected, the total outturn was less than desired.
“I’d like to see a minimum of 25 to 30 people attending. It is hard to get people motivated, although they do vote,” said Kenneth Cabral, a delegate for seven years.
Mitchell believes that a lack of understanding of the importance of involvement in politics, even on a local level, is to blame for the less-than-desired turnout at most caucuses.
The caucus began as Mitchell read a letter from Chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, John Walsh, providing words of encouragement and outlining the goals for the event. In accordance with the laws for electing delegates, an equal amount of men and women had to be elected to represent the district. Four men and four women (including Mitchell, whose spot as a delegate is included in her responsibilities as chairwoman) ran unopposed for their positions. Darlene Boroviak, Susan Hindersmann and Caroline Weil were elected to fill the women’s spots, while Brandt Henderson, Ken Cabral, Robert Keating and Peter Whalen were elected for the men’s spots.
After the caucus, Mitchell received an email from a member of the the state rules committee that explains that the three people that were elected as alternates, Evan Smith, Samuel Henderson and Cynthia Gouveia, were not eligible because they did not notify the chair of their interest in running beforehand.
Also present were members of the community who were running for political office. After the caucus officially closed, the floor was opened for speeches. First to speak was Keith Carreiro, running for General Court House Seat for the 4th Bristol District. Carreiro stressed a desire to bring together those he works with. Central to Carreiro’s speech was the strong belief that concerted efforts will contribute to positive changes within the community.
“As the Chair of the School Committee, I have seen everyone working together instead of bickering,” he said. “As a result, we have saved 432 metric tons of carbon in just five months. I want to take this spirit and apply it throughout the district.”
Congressional candidate Paul Heroux delivered a speech outlining his qualifications for his desired position as well as his future plans, if elected. A self-made man with negotiating skills cultivated through his impressive resume, Heroux hopes his genuine disposition and middle-class background will enable him to relate to his voters on a personal level, ultimately leading him to be chosen over his well-known opponent, Joe Kennedy. Heroux’s adamantly hands-on approach to politics is best embodied in his personal, door-to-door endeavors to get his name on the ballot.
“I’m personally collecting my 2,000 signatures,” he stated. To questions about his lack of political experience, Heroux put the situation in perspective. “Not a single elective candidate [in this race] has any electoral experience,” he said. “Not one. But my philosophy on that is ‘If you have nothing, you can do anything.’”
The general attitude amongst the attendees was an experienced yet still passionate strive towards change.
“You don’t think this is what it’s like in Iowa, do you?” joked one of the attendees as the delegates were voted to their positions, to which the rest of the group laughed. Though youths were conspicuously absent from the meeting, the library itself lent it a youthful, forward-moving energy. This spark of underlying excitement spoke to what the seasoned group of attendees already knew: that participation, no matter how large or small, can lead to the actualization of ideas and hopes for this country.