Moderator’s Message for Bedford’s Annual Town Meeting, March 2023 

Submitted by Mark Siegenthaler, Bedford Town Moderator

Residents of Bedford, 

On Monday, March 27, 2023, we will gather for our Annual Town Meeting. This year’s starting time at 6:30 p.m. is a little earlier than past years and we will be returning to the Bedford High School auditorium for our meeting. 

Open Town Meeting is our legislative process. Registered voters act on bylaws, appropriate funds, and consider general town business. Our meeting procedures are based on a variety of state laws, the Bedford Charter and Bylaws, a reference guide called Town Meeting Time, and our practices at previous Town Meetings. Many details about the rules and how Town Meeting works are available on the Town’s website: https://www.bedfordma.gov/295/Town-Meeting

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Town Meetings are business meetings of the Town and use as an agenda the Articles listed in the Warrant booklet. As such, proper behavior must be maintained during the meeting. Residents may have heard or read recently about a court decision that restricted the rules that can be imposed on participant behavior during public comment periods at public meetings. This decision does not apply to meetings such as Town Meeting. 

The Town Moderator is charged with conducting the proceedings within the Town’s rules and under their authority as Moderator. For example:

  • No one may speak unless recognized by the Moderator and all questions must be directed through the Moderator. 
  • Attendees are expected to adhere to the Town’s Guidelines for Civil Discourse. 
  • Clapping, cheering, or booing are not allowed at the meetings. 
  • Speakers must be respectful of each other and the professional staff that are present.
  • Speakers must speak to the motion at hand, and their comments and questions must be directed to the motion. 
  • Personal comments directed at people, or characterizations of groups, organizations or other individuals will not be tolerated. 

Town Meeting procedures, established in the town’s bylaws, are detailed on pages 34-36 of the Warrant booklet you received. 

Attendees at our upcoming meeting will not be required to wear masks, but anyone who wishes to do so is welcome to. Speakers should remember to remove their masks when speaking at a microphone. I ask everyone to support whichever choice our friends and neighbors make regarding masking and respect their personal space when choosing where to sit.

There are also residents who may have difficulty navigating the auditorium seating, or need to be close to the front to see or hear better. Please consider giving up your seat if you see someone in need. 

Bedford has a long tradition of coming together respectfully at Town Meeting. How we conduct ourselves there reflects on our town as a whole. I hope you will join with me in participating at Annual Town Meeting in ways that reflect well on our ability to make decisions, treat each other respectfully, and continue to support the work we do together. 

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