Wilmington would lose so much by ending in-person Town Meetings

WILMINGTON — I see on the Wilmington Annual Town Meeting warning two articles related to going to Australian ballot and doing away with Town Meetings.

It is important that Wilmington voters know that this means that Annual Town Meetings would cease to exist. Our form of town government would change, drastically. Voters would go in on a given day, with no discussion, and just vote the articles. No questions, no debate, no direct involvement.

I know that some voters are unable to get to Town Meetings and some choose not to come. To me, Town Meeting is at the core of small town government, and if we were to go to exclusive use of Australian ballots we would lose so much.

Over the years I have learned a lot about our town government and the important issues by the questions and opinions offered by townspeople from the floor. Many times those discussions have helped me decide how to vote. That would be lost if we eliminate in-person gatherings.

In fact, these very articles show clearly why we need to keep Town Meetings. I will bet that during the discussion we will all hear valid arguments on both sides. Townspeople's opinions will be valuable tools for others to decide how to vote, and together we might even come up with ideas for increasing participation. If Town Meeting is gone, those opportunities will also be gone and an important part of local democracy will disappear.

As a small town we absolutely depend on times such as Town Meeting to get to know and interact with other residents and those who work for the town. We get to know people's interests, what they support, and how much they care about our community.

I appreciate the heads of Town Departments when they explain their spending. When I first moved here, I learned so much from listening to Porter Farwell and Phil Ware share their wisdom.

As the years have gone by, others have stepped forward to speak up, and I admire the time they have taken examining the Town Report and then asking their thoughtful questions.

Do I always agree with them? No, but I make better, more informed decisions after listening to the questions and answers.

So, please come to Town Meeting, bring a friend or two, and weigh in. It could be your last time, although I truly hope not. Know, too, that the relevant articles will be discussed toward the end of the meeting.

Whether you are a first-timer or an old timer, I hope you vote to keep this important part of our democracy. You can participate and vote, or you can sit back and let others do it for you.

It's your choice.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates