Middletown Township residents deserve an open and transparent government that invites public participation. Unfortunately, Middletown government has a history of holding closed-door meetings and discouraging public participation. A former mayor was even quoted at a Township Committee meeting saying that, if township officials told the public what was going on, nothing would ever get done. In the last few years, though, the Middletown Democrats and their candidates for Township Committee have been trying hard to shine a light into Township operations. We have had several successes.
Middletown residents elected several Township Committee Members who supported greater public involvement, including simple steps like making meeting materials available for public review BEFORE committee meetings. After the Township declared it too expensive to film and air its meetings on the public access cable channel, members of the community raised enough money to buy a video camera and began filming Township Committee, Library Board, and Sewerage Board meetings, and made the videos publicly available on our website at no cost to the Township. Our members also attend numerous township meetings, research policy and resourcing proposals, and talk to residents in their neighborhoods about what is most important to them so they can ask questions and encourage public participation in Township government.
These small successes are making a difference in improving openness and transparency in Middletown government, but there is more to do. Certain boards and committees still conduct business behind closed doors, deciding on votes before public comment periods have concluded. There are still hurdles to filming township meetings and obtaining access to documents and records. Also, political patronage remains a concern for key township positions.
Above all, I would like to see more public participation in our local government. I know that will come only with better public awareness of what is about to be considered, debated, and decided by our township government. My goal as Chairman of the Middletown Democratic Party is to increase public access to information and help citizens make more informed decisions about issues that affect our town, taxes, schools, parks, and public services. A more informed public is the first step to a more participatory democracy. I hope you will join our efforts and get involved!