For those who were not able to make it to Town Meeting last week, I completely understand. It is challenging to find four hours on a Sunday afternoon and then four more on a Monday evening. We all have busy lives. After attending some of the latest Town Meetings, I support previous recommendations to update our Town Meeting format. I was shocked to witness 1% (180ish people) of our town vote to set a policy that is going to affect almost everyone in Concord (Article 37). At both meetings, views on the various contended issues were often presented based on emotions and conflicting data was tossed from one microphone to the next. For the most part, it felt like there was very little expertise in the room and no fact checking. Decisions affecting the majority of Concord residents were made throughout the eight hours by the few people in this town who have time on their hands and the patience to listen to others ask such questions as – what flavor ice creams will be available if we allow food trucks in town!
I encourage the Select Board to consider other models that are more democratic, more representative and, I can only assume, more reasonable. Open Town Meeting has been in place for over 300 years and is required only for towns with less than 6,000 residents. It is time to look at what our neighbors are doing and make sure that the views of our broad community are being represented and we are making well-informed decisions.