Paul Mordecai Rosenberg
Oct 13, 2023
Unlike the Trump-influenced Republican televised Punch and Judy farces, it was at all times civil. Both candidates—incumbent first selectman Denise Raap and challenger Norman Sauer—behaved well, even cordially.
13 October— Friday the thirteenth and Altice or some other malevolent spirit is playing sick games with my server, so I’ve had to resort to a VPN (virtual private network) to post this morning’s disquisition.
The candidates for Litchfield First Selectman debated in the Bunker last night. What’s unfondly known as the Bunker, for those unfamiliar with questionable Litchfield landmarks, is what used to be the Litchfield Junior High School, then became the Litchfield Middle School, is now the Litchfield Intermediate School, and will become something else when the Wil Magoo Region (a.k.a. Region 20) takes it over next year.
The Bunker, whose administrative tower now houses the Litchfield Volunteer Ambulance office, must remain at least in part under the control of the education establishment because it has the only auditorium on the Plum Hill school campus. On the other hand, if my memory serves me, in typical Litchfield penny-wise-pound-foolish fashion, the Bunker’s gymnasium also serves as its lunchroom. Not that it would bother kids.
The Bunker, a concrete monstrosity with minimal glass thrown in as a disguise, is without doubt the least attractive work of noted Brutalist, Bauhaus-influenced architect John Johansen. And it’s a lousy design for a school.
Johansen, it must be noted, worked for a time as a draftsman for Litchfield’s favorite Bauhaus Brutalist, Marcel Breuer, whose schools in town are perhaps less brutal but equally offensive. And also lousy designs for schools. And, of course, not worth preserving.
Back to the great Litchfield mayoral debate, then, unlike the Trump-influenced Republican televised Punch and Judy farces, it was at all times civil. Both candidates—incumbent first selectman Denise Raap and challenger Norman Sauer—behaved well, even cordially. So did moderator Jeffrey Wacker. But he was so moderate that he didn’t ask the candidates any of the really pointed questions that had been submitted to him on file cards. (Including mine, of course. And there should have been a time for questions from the floor.)
Both debaters were well-prepared with sometimes clashing facts and figures and gave as well as they got. Norman, needing a good reason or three to dump the current town administration, opened with a strong attack starting with most voters’ prime motivation, finance, and going on to many of the other standard issues. He was always ready and comfortable with the facts and figures to substantiate his case. So Norman staged an excellent offense.
Norman’s facts, figures, and conclusions clearly and understandably got Denise’s hackles up. But she also was always ready and comfortable with the facts and figures to substantiate her case and support her incumbency and the current town administration, if not specifically to rebut Norman. Being an incumbent, of course, she had a record, which her opponent naturally used against her. But she cleverly and skillfully used it in her and her administration’s defense.
I haven’t mentioned the candidates’ party affiliation. Not because local readers know it, but because, despite what the party faithful may like to believe, it doesn’t really matter in local races . . .