Next Tuesday is Town Meeting Day! Town Meeting marks a rite of spring as well as a chance to catch up with friends and socialize at what might be one of the best lunch spreads to be had – ever.
But Town Meeting is much more than that. It is an affirmation that people can agree to get together and make important community decisions by a show of hands, by a voice vote, by a ballot vote and by standing up.
There is implied consent when a group of town residents sits down and has a vigorous discussion of their school budget, calls for the vote and then calls for a paper ballot. The consent implied is that we will accept the outcome of this vote, whether we agree with it or not, because either the ayes have it or the nays have it.
It is important that we retain our ability to meet with our elected leaders and our number crunchers and our neighbors to discuss how much money we should spend on roads, bridges, fire trucks, libraries and land conservation. It’s incredibly easy, in the digital era, to send out an email blast outlining one’s position. It’s less easy and somewhat messier to sit in the elementary school gym and jockey for position to be heard, be heard and hear others.
It’s important, at this first Town Meeting since Hurricane Irene roared through our Valley, that we get together in our communities and with our leaders, much like we did in the days immediately following the storm, to take stock of where we are, how much it cost, where we’re going and how much more it will cost.
It’s important to affirm and recognize that we’re a community and we’re in it together, whether the issue at hand is a culvert replacement, what to do with landfill tipping fees, whether or not to build a new classroom at the school, whether to fund a conservation fund, whether to set aside money to a new town office or even where a new town office might go.
The way we get to consensus – or the implied consent of being on the losing side of a vote – is to gather and talk it out. If you can be heard and can vote you can be part of the solution.
But that requires attending Town Meeting in the first place.
So, go. Participate. Vote aye or nay.