George Smith’s March 25 column about town meetings was right on target. The town meeting is the opportunity for taxpayers to interact in the finest form of democracy left in our Republic.

In 1971, I was chairman of the Winthrop Budget Committee, and we worked hard to hold the budget to that of the year before. Only about 2 percent of registered voters showed up at town meeting. They amended and passed the original wish list, resulting in a 3 mil increase.

I realized that the lack of participation meant it was time to go to the council form of government, which saddened me deeply as I loved attending town meeting debating the issues, grilling the town officials and making collective judgments in an informed environment. People sadly forget about these things when they do away with town meetings.

After 78 years in Winthrop, two years ago I moved to Fayette, which still has town meeting. I have attended both since I have been here and thoroughly loved the involvement. I agree with George that it was a mistake to move the town meeting to June as attendance is greatly reduced. In March, everyone has developed a bad case of cabin fever and attending town meeting, interacting with folks you haven’t seen in months, is just what the doctor ordered. In June, everyone is burdened with gardening, opening camps, school activities, weddings etc., and the turnout is much lower. It is time to get town and school budgets together and meet again in March.

As George said “Town Meeting is a very conservative concept, initiated to defeat the centralization of government. And when we are the government, we don’t fear the government.” People fortunate enough to still have town meetings should attend them and participate in democracy at its best.

Albert L. Godfrey Sr.


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