Attendance at Town Meeting this year was the lowest it’s been in more than a decade. Only 184 registered voters showed up to the meeting earlier this month. The last time attendance fell below 200 was in 2000 when only 166 turned out for the first night of Town Meeting.
Town officials and residents alike have decried the lack of participation – Selectman John Rooney called attendance at this year’s Town Meeting “pathetic” – and many have wondered what we can do to bring Town Meeting back to life.
In a comment on this blog, Rooney held little hope for the future of Town Meeting. “Sadly, the institution of town meeting appears to be teetering on the brink of demise. It is failing us as a Town,” he wrote. But others suggest certain changes could make a difference. Chief among those proposed changes is moving the meeting to a Saturday instead of holding it during the week.
Resident Jessica Devine, who attended Town Meeting this year, said holding the meeting on a Saturday would be better for working parents. In a poll on the blog last year, 21% of you said you didn’t attend Town Meeting because it would have kept you up too late on a weeknight.
Advisory Committee member John Butler, speaking for himself and not the committee, said moving Town Meeting to a Saturday is worth a try. “I think the Selectmen should try moving it to the following Saturday next year, just to see what affect on attendance it seems to have. Why not try?” Butler commented on the blog. “In fact, I would say they should run a three year experiment and see if average attendance improves compared to the prior three years.”
What do you think? Do you support the idea of moving Town Meeting to a Saturday? Would you be more likely to attend if the meeting was held on the weekend? Take the poll, and then share your thoughts in the comments below.
I’ve said this before and will say it again: when there has been controversy, the voters have attended. There was virtually no article on the warrant that was not supported by both Selectmen and Advisory. The only two that I recall that were not unanimously supported were: the article on number of selectmen ( many would say : not material to me ) and the small difference in the Library appropriation. Every material article was supported by those who have devoted time to studying the issues. What was out there to cause crowds to gather? Rather than create controversy, why not simply view this as a vote of confidence in Selectmen’s and Advisory’s opinions.
I cannot agree. The school budget, pay, and union power has not been fully addressed. That is my only interest. At the end of the day it is all about the money. The rest is IMO procedural and perhaps seeking efficiencies. I will only attend when the school is seriously addressed with a view to lowering taxes.