Jennie McKenna: Believes Town Meeting reflects community

Thursday, February 01, 2018
Town Meeting reflects community

I love Town Meeting. Along with public libraries, I believe it to be one of the purest forms democracy can take.

There is lots being said about the representation Town Meeting provides compared to that which a town council might offer. I think of the two forms of representation so differently.

Town Meeting works because 240 people engage in discussion and study, each bringing his/her/their biases, expertise, hopes, curiosity and intention to the table. Its representative capacity isn’t as much drawn from the idea of anyone being able to represent each of the constituents in the district, any more than a council person could be expected to do that. It comes, rather, from the number of voices and the life experiences that gather in the room. The activity reminds me of a rock tumbler. I don’t believe 13 people will be able to do that, no matter how well intentioned.

I was crushed when Town Meeting failed to pass the borrowing for the new school. That said, I was quite interested to see that both times that Town Meeting voted, the outcome very closely mirrored the townwide vote. That supported my belief that, by bringing so many people together from the community, we can reflect the whole.

We are a long way from making everyone feel that her/his/their voice has actually been heard and considered. I can’t imagine how a council of 13 can improve that. I hope we get the chance to continue to pursue this goal in Amherst in Town Meeting.

Jennie McKenna