Ideas for Increasing Community Participation
One of my primary goals is to increase participation in Burlington's Town Meeting.
I believe the discussions and debate over issues should be widespread among the members of the body.
At our Annual Town Meeting in May, I asked any Town Meeting Member (TMM)
to place their name for an appointment to committees. I appointed several new members to various committees including the Rules and By Laws Committees
that were inactive for many years. These Committees independently elected their own Chairmen and Vice Chairmen and are seriously engaged in a process
that has strengthened their ties to each other and their responsibility for governing this wonderful town.
At my first Town Meeting as Moderator, I brought back the performing arts and our talented students to perform before Town Meeting.
This is a great way to showcase students' talents and the programs they perform in as well as the exceptional quality of our arts programs.
As Moderator, I am exploring practices that enable greater, more effective participation by TMMs. Under Roberts Rules of Order, unless otherwise voted by the assembly and
published in the organization’s rules, members must be recognized in the order in which they stand. Many towns have microphones in the aisles for questions and “yes” and “no” opinions.
The Moderator recognizes members in the order in which they stand at the microphones with allowance made for people who cannot stand. This practice reduces the perception that the Moderator decides who will or won’t be allowed to speak.
As a former TMM for 17 years, I understand the frustration of many TMMs who believe the Moderator misses calling on members who want to speak on an issue.
In the upcoming January Town Meeting, as an experiment, there will be microphones in the aisles. This proposal enables everyone who wants to participate every
opportunity to speak as well as improving the pace of Town Meeting.
Burlington has a rich past. The past serves as a solid foundation for the town’s bright future, a future that needs to tap the talents and vision of all members of the community to meet 21st century challenges.
I believe my leadership in Town Meeting has encouraged greater participation by the community in all aspects of our town and town government.
We have a diverse community that would be well served by greater participation and by greater diversity of our elected officials.