Town Meeting 2015 has come and gone leaving budgets passed, town officials elected, amazing luncheons eaten and ballots counted. We have socialized with our neighbors, talked budgets and tandem trucks with fellow voters and reveled in the fact that we survived the dark and cold of December, January and February. Now it's getting light, the sun is getting stronger and the sap will run. For that we rejoice.
But Town Meeting is more than a familiar, reassuring and welcomed annual ritual. It is an important part of how we govern ourselves and an affirmation that we need to sit in the same room and talk about things respectfully, even when and especially when we disagree. We are neighbors, after all.
But it is also our civic duty to participate and it is our civic duty to vote. There were a handful of votes throughout The Valley this year that demonstrate just how important it is that people vote, not only at the meeting itself but at the polls which are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Consider the fact that the U-45 school budget was defeated 551-531. The U-45 district includes Duxbury and Waterbury and serves a shared primary school and a shared middle school. The school budget failed by 28 votes in a district where there are about 4,700 registered voters, 1,074 of whom took the time.
In Waitsfield, where there are 1,219 registered voters, 250 voters removed from all the voters the right to elect the town clerk and treasurer. The vote to adopt a charter that removes that power from voters and vests it with the select board was 250-226 with 23 blank ballots and one spoiled ballot.
In Duxbury, there was an article that called for reducing the term of the town clerk and treasurer from three years to one year. A call was made for a paper ballot and the vote was 49 opposed to 48 in favor.
Every vote does count. It counts in Duxbury and it counts in the U-45 school district.
Every vote counts in Fayston where there are 1,084 registered voters and 117 people cast ballots this week and 39 people approved the school budget. Every vote counts in Warren where there are 1,335 voters and 250 cast ballots and fewer than 100 participated in Town Meeting.
Counting every single vote is easier than getting voters to cast them.