Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Democracy in Action

Did you know that Massachusetts is one of four states in the U.S. officially designated as a Commonwealth? (Kentucky, Virginia and Pennsylvania are the other three).This means that they have a "government based on the common consent of the people" as opposed to Royal Colony status from Great Britain. Massachusetts is one of the original 13 colonies; we take our independence very seriously. Our town doesn't have a Mayor - we're governed by Town Meeting.

A New England Town Meeting is Democracy in Action. An average citizen can come to town meeting, voice their opinion, persuade their neighbors and fellow taxpayers one direction or another, and vote on issues that concern their community. One person can mean the difference between an article passing or failing.

Our Annual Town Meeting was this week. I've attended hit or miss in the past, but now that I'm involved in town government it's important to attend. There were more than 50 warrant articles to be voted on. My committee had a warrant on the agenda; it was pretty much a no-brainer, and it passed without any problem.

It went pretty quickly for Annual Meeting too. All articles were decided in one night, and the meeting ended about 11pm. Some years the meeting has to be extended to the next night to finish it all up.

Next week certain articles that were approved at Town Meeting have a requirement of show up on a ballot; also on the ballot are individuals running for election (or re-election) to town positions.

Though it may be boring to read about (sorry!) it's kind of an amazing process to be involved in; especially to me, transplanted from a part of the country where this is not the norm. I'm more involved than I have ever been in politics or government.

Thus endeth the Social Studies lesson for today.


Queen Mommy said...

I am a slacker, I have yet to be at ONE of my town meetings. So out of 2,000 people in our town 54 make the decisions. Not good. Not good.

Sue said...

I went to ours Monday night. I didn't know that it was not the norm!? Thanks for helping me learn something today. My election is tomorrow!

Terry said...

We don't have town meetings back in Oregon, at least not like that, but I have to say, I too am much more involved in politics that I every was in my youth.

We need a few days to chat and catch up!! Hmmm, how long before Darling Daughter graduates?