Only about a third of Connecticut’s eligible voters made it to the polls for last week’s municipal election. Meet Arturo Perez-Cabello, a recently naturalized citizen who voted for the first time on election day and won a seat on his local school board.
Perez-Cabello, an administrator at Yale, has lived in Hamden for nearly ten years. He and his wife own a home, and their daughter attends the local public school. "So in 2012, I finally decided to stop dragging my feet about applying for citizenship," he said. He wanted the right to vote.
"I think it’s a very important right," said Perez-Cabello. "And I would have to go back to my upbringing in Mexico, in a country that really didn’t end up having what would you consider a fair and democratic election until 2000."
Perez-Cabello had been an active member of his local PTA and neighborhood civic association. But he wanted to do more. So he approached Michael Ross of Hamden’s Democratic Party about the idea of running for a seat on the Board of Education. The nomination process is not easy.
"Arturo called everybody, 60 some-odd people on the Town Committee," he explained. "I told him he had to do it. Didn’t think he would do it. But he did it."
And he got on the ballot. On Election Day, Perez-Cabello says he took time before casting his first-ever vote in the U.S.
"This was completely new. I had never really been inside of the place where people vote here in this country. So I circled all the votes and I save the last one - my name. I skipped it first. And then took a few seconds to just look at that circle, that oval. And I said, 'Ok, well all right. Let’s do it.' And then I voted. For me. And it felt good."
He won the election with more than 6000 votes. Arturo Perez-Cabello will serve on Hamden’s Board of Education for the next four years.