Letter to the Editors Announcing Candidacy
I’m announcing my candidacy for re-election as Town Moderator because I want to continue to improve Town Meeting’s governance role.
I impartially moderated the proceedings through the last four Town Meetings, including one Special Town Meeting (TM) to approve the TIF
agreement with EMD Millipore. My commitment to TM is to respect and to adhere to Roberts Rules of Order.
I reactivated Town Meeting committees that had been inactive for many years.
A responsibility of one of the reactivated committees, the Bylaw Review Committee, is to review the Bylaws and report to the Annual (May)
Town Meeting its recommendations for amendment, adoption or repeal of Bylaws. The committee had not made a report to TM for many years.
The committee of new members reported at September TM their approach to reviewing and updating the Bylaws. As of January Town Meeting, the
committee submitted sixteen articles as part of their initial review for accuracy and relevance.
Another reactivated committee, the Rules Committee, met several times and presented three articles for consideration at the January TM.
I initiated Town Meeting Information Sessions and, also, worked with the Town Clerk, Amy Warfield, to create visuals that displayed warrant
articles on the screen at TM to better inform Town Meeting Members and BCAT viewers about the warrant articles under discussion.
I actively sought reports from committees and boards prior to Town Meeting so they could provide current information on their activities and priorities.
I’m open to ideas that would encourage broader participation in Town Meeting.
My steady, calm and respectful disposition fosters mutual respect and contributes to a healthy dialogue and resolution. I was honored to be
elected Burlington’s Moderator in 2015 and 2016, and I respectfully ask for your vote on Saturday, April 8th.
Why is the Town Meeting Moderator position important to the town and what inspires you to run for this position?
The Town Moderator is the presiding officer of Town Meeting and makes appointments to standing and special committees of Town Meeting.
The Moderator’s job is to impartially conduct the proceedings according to the warrant by stating the question Town Meeting Members (TMMs)
will be debating and voting on, recognizing members who want to speak and declaring the result of votes.
The Moderator sets the tone and atmosphere at Town Meeting, directly impacting how TMMs engage in the process.
The Moderator has the ability to influence activities and votes through committee appointments. It is also vital that the Moderator’s appointments be impartial.
Standing committees are: Bylaw Review, Capital Budget, Facilities, Human Services, Land Use Committee, Rules and Ways & Means.
I am running for re-election as Town Moderator because I am a strong believer in Town Meeting and want to continue to improve Town Meeting’s governance role.
Town Meeting is a place where elected representatives should feel encouraged to speak to the matters presented. My commitment to Town Meeting is to
adhere to and to respect Roberts Rules of Order including recusing myself, if needed, to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest.
Residents also need to know that the matters before the body will be debated in an open and thoughtful manner with no partisan favoritism to any constituency or town department.
I treat Town Meeting Members and residents with the respect they deserve.
I have demonstrated my impartiality and ability through four Town Meetings during the last year.
At times, debate during Town Meeting can become very heated. How does a Town Meeting moderator allow Town Meeting members to voice their concerns and opinions while also maintaining order and managing the meeting’s agenda effectively?
The role of the Town Moderator is to conduct Town Meeting fairly and effectively. This is accomplished by recognizing Town Meeting Members’ right to speak on an issue.
Town Meeting is effective only with civil discourse. Without civil discourse, it is reduced to personal bias and opinion, which may diminish town meeting discussion and votes.
Throughout each Town Meeting session, the Moderator enforces the rules of debate and uses Roberts Rules of order as a guide.
Speakers must address their questions and statements through the Moderator. This maintains a formality that keeps the focus on questions and not the individual or
When Members direct their anger or irritation at other members or presenters, the Moderator may interrupt the speakers and tell them to tone down the rhetoric.
If the speaker ignores the warning, the Moderator should tell the speaker to sit down and be silent.
Refusal to do so may cause the speaker to be ruled out of order. The ruling cannot be questioned.
While these options to control and conduct Town Meeting effectively are available to the Moderator, the Moderator’s own style and demeanor set a tone for respect and
civility. The Moderator’s respect for
Town Meeting Members’ voice to be heard is an important factor in maintaining civil discourse, especially with controversial topics.
Common sense, a calm demeanor, respect and fairness for the body are equally as important.
The Town Meeting form of government provides an opportunity for residents to participate directly in the decisions and issues facing the town.
Based on your observations and experiences, what do you think are the top two or three
issues residents of the Town of Burlington are most concerned about at this time?
My longtime experience as a Town Meeting Member and land use committee chair gives me a good idea of what issues are uppermost in residents’ minds, but it is not the moderator’s job to define those issues. It’s up to the residents, Town Meeting members, and town officials to do that. Once the issues have been identified, in warrant articles, the moderator is responsible for overseeing the discussion and votes in an impartial and fair manner.
It’s the legislative process at its best.
With that said, I am glad to share some of the issues I do hear residents talk about the most.
- Traffic has been and continues to be a major concern in Burlington, and there is still work to be done.
- Based on my conversations with seniors, affordable and accessible housing in Burlington for longtime residents who can no longer live here is an important issue.
After selling their homes, they want to remain in Burlington where they’ve spent most of their lives. The options are few, and many are forced to move to surrounding communities.
- I believe that residents want a strong and effective Town Meeting that reflects the diversity of the community.
Town Meeting becomes strong and effective when its members believe they have a voice, represent their constituents, and are truly part of the decision process.
While traffic and housing affect most of us, a strong and effective Town Meeting affects all of us.
I’m running for re-election as Town Moderator because I want to continue to give all residents a voice in our Town by giving Town Meeting Members (TMMs), who are our local legislators, a strong voice.
The Moderator conducts Town Meeting and sets the tone and atmosphere, directly impacting how TMMs engage in the process. An impartial Moderator gives a voice to members who want to speak to an article or participate in the process regardless of their point of view. A fair Moderator insures all people who want to speak or be appointed will be considered, not just those who are close associates of the Moderator or a political faction.
Perception of independence is as important as actual independence. The Moderator must be seen as free of influence from any town department.
The Moderator has the ability to influence activities and votes through committee appointments. These important committees include Ways & Means, which is the town’s financial review board. It’s their responsibility to review and vote on financial matters as a committee. It’s important that the committee reviews matters fairly and without bias. TMMs rely on an impartial vote from W&M because it strongly influences how they vote on an article.
Residents need to know that matters before TM will be debated in an open and thoughtful manner without favoritism to any constituency. My experience as Chair of the Land Use and Capital Budget Committees is as important as my 17 years as a TMM. These roles in town government give me insight into town governance.
During my first year as Moderator, I reactivated committees that were dormant for years. In fact the Bylaw Review Committee presented and Town Meeting passed almost 20 updates to the Bylaw.
I take my position seriously. I earned two certificates from the National Association of Parliamentarians. Also, I meet with Moderators from other towns, giving me insight to how other Town Meetings are conducted and similar issues addressed.
I have proven I am an independent, fair, firm and impartial Moderator. I do not and will not work for the town, except as Moderator. Given that fact, I am free to preside over all matters without recusing myself. There is no perception of any conflicts of interest.
I want to offer my appreciation to the almost two-thirds of TMMs who support me.
Please vote for me, Sally Willard, on Saturday, April 8th.