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Stop Complaining About Government and Participate; Town Meeting Members Needed

There are 27 Town Meeting Member seats with no candidates running for them in the April 4 Annual Town Election.

The vacancies exist in all of the town's voting districts: two in Precinct 1, five in Precinct 2, one in Precinct 3, seven in Precinct 4, two in Precinct 5, three in Precinct 6, one in Precinct 7, and six in Precinct 8.

These open seats equal 11 percent of the 240 total elected Town Meeting Member positions.

That's a large number for an elected body that – among its other duties – votes on the town's annual operating budget. And that budget spending makes up a giant portion of the costs that translate into the property taxes you pay.

And this apathy is a sign of the times, where people seem too busy to get involved in their local government. In the case of Town Meeting Members, we're talking a commitment of two or three nighttime meetings, each between two and three hours long, annually

I came across this quote from Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren recently and – whether or not you like the speaker – it certainly rings true: "If you don't have a seat at the table, you're probably on the menu," she said.

Local government is probably the only place that an elected official is really accountable to you. By this, I mean that once you go beyond your town government, you are dealing with regional, then state, and then national government officials. Even if you know them personally, they usually are preoccupied by "broader" matters.

But, your Town Meeting Members and your elected town board members are your neighbors. They are very reachable if you want to complain to them, agree with them, or disagree with them. And, the votes they take, affect you directly.

Let's take a look at some of the things Town Meeting Members voted on last year: approving a $95,364,863 operating budget; repairing the front stairs and railings at the Milford Police Headquarters; eliminating the Capital Improvement Committee; enacting a new sign by-law; funding a pilot bus service in town; borrowing $2 million to build a sludge thickening building at the wastewater treatment plant; spending $1.1 million on a new ladder truck for the Fire Department; and, putting $1.5 million away in the town's savings accounts.

I guess it's easier to sit at home and complain about what "they" (government, that is) are doing than it is to actually get involved – you know, as in "We the people..."

So, back to those 27 seats with no one running for them: You're telling me that there aren't 27 people in this town who can invest between four and 10 hours a year at meetings to decide what Milford's town government will do?

To quote our Twitter-in-Chief: Sad!


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