Submitted by Nancy Wolk
The 2023 Annual Town Meeting was a display of tyranny by the minority. At every turn, a vocal minority delayed the meeting. I am very frustrated by these techniques to air their grievances and slow this important business meeting.
Starting as early as Article 2, people started to challenge the meeting rules as somehow underhanded. This is insulting to the entire town. Residents who are spending their Town Meeting time as tellers are not trying to sway the count. I was pleased the Moderator stood his ground on the rules as they have served the town well for the decades they have stood. Yet, another resident challenged the Moderator’s ability to run the meeting!
Article 3 was delayed because a small minority insisted that the legal language was not clear enough. I suspect most of the people who were trying to change the language are unaware of town easements throughout the town and how these are needed and legally acquired.
These sorts of pushbacks continued throughout the evening. People requested hand counts when they lost the vote even when it was obvious the Moderator made the correct assessment of the vote. These incorrect claims that issues could not be raised to the Select Board about the Town Meeting concerns implied people were being silenced by the board. This was not true as the Town Meeting was on the agenda.
We did not need to hold certain budgets because there were questions that were not germane to the budget. Those questions would be better directed to the individual boards in those meetings, yet every year, we hear these questions.
I strongly urge every resident attending Town Meeting to educate yourself by reading the Town Report. Attend the Select Board Meetings in January and February when they are discussing Town Meeting. Ask questions ahead of time at different boards in town. Reach out to different board and committee members.
Town Meetings are being taken over by a minority who are acting in a manner that is inappropriate for a business meeting. Town Meeting is not a town square. This disenfranchises voters and is the opposite of town democracy. Let’s work to make the Town Meeting efficient and far more effective. Holding up the meeting and slowing the process is not democracy, it is a tyranny of the minority.
Editor’s note: Nancy Wolk is an elected member of the Bedford Board of Assessors, but the statements in this letter are her own opinion.