Your Town Meeting needs more voices participating for democracy to work

WESTMINSTER — Town Meetings are a New England tradition that enables all voting-eligible residents of a town to learn about and discuss proposals for the coming year. I ask residents of Vermont to take this opportunity to participate in shaping policy on the local level. Budgetary implications and the resulting policy on a wide range of issues are determined at Town Meeting.

With decreasing attendance at our Town Meetings, decisions are being made by a smaller and smaller portion of each town. As a social studies teacher and a state representative, I am concerned about decreasing participation in our government at all levels.

You may know about an issue in town that your neighbor doesn't. When you both show up to Town Meeting, we can learn from both of you!

How are your fire department and other emergency services responding in times of need in your community? Go to Town Meeting and find out.

Do you have town buildings that need upgrades? Vote to support this possibility (or vote against it, if you don't agree).

I live in a town with fewer than 3,000 residents, but at last year's Town Meeting I recall fewer than 80 residents there helping to shape the following year's plans for our town. We need more voices participating for democracy to work.

Come meet your neighbors, listen to reports from your Selectboard (and possibly town managers, state representatives, and state senators). This is the one time a year we have the opportunity together to help plan the best future we can have for the next year in each of our towns.

Though Town Meeting Day is Tuesday, March 7, Town Meetings may take place as soon as Saturday, March 4 or some other time. Check with your town to find the day and time, and then please plan to show up. Encourage your neighbors to come, too!

Residents of Westminster, I hope see many members of our community at our Town Meeting. If you are from one of Vermont's 251 other towns, I hope you find a meeting filled with many neighbors you know - and others you don't - coming together to plan for your collective future as well.

Town Meetings are a valuable and unique Vermont tradition. Let's help the tradition to thrive by participating.

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