As a small town, Athens sometimes struggles to find enough people to fill the positions needed for our town. In the most recent past, our Selectboard chair has also worn the hat of moderator.
In our opinion, this doesn't serve the town well, in that often the chair of the board is looked to for answers to voters' questions.
A Handbook for Vermont Moderators, published by the Vermont Secretary of State's office in 2009, describes moderators as “the referees of municipal meetings. They guide and mold the meeting from opening gavel to adjournment with an authority that is second to no one, not even the selectboard, during the time the meeting is in session.”
The handbook further indicates that the moderator is required to be impartial through the meeting and should step down before an article is read if they must speak on a motion.