WEST DUMMERSTON — Do you know the duties of the justices of the peace whom you vote for on Election Day? Most of us don't, and usually it doesn't matter because there are not candidates clamoring for the position.
If you think about it, it is rare to have more candidates than positions. The number of JPs is based on population, and their duties are limited to five basic areas: elections, tax hearings, marriages, notary, and (when commissioned by the Vermont Supreme Court) magistrate.
In these contentious times, the role of your JP is more important than ever. JPs are members of the Board of Civil Authority, which is responsible for conducting elections and for hearing and deciding property tax appeals. What could be more important to citizens than fair elections and just property values?
If perception is reality, having all the justices of the peace lean one way or the other politically could present the perception of bias. In reality, a balanced board is a fairer way of decision-making and of representing all citizens of a community. A one-sided panel at election time requires the town to find volunteers from the underrepresented party to assist.
When you cast your vote, please give consideration to voting for a slate of justices of the peace that is diverse. In Newfane, three Republican candidates are vying for spots as justices of the peace on a panel that is currently all Democratic.
One step toward creating diversity.