Saturday, February 6, 2016

Democracy In Small Town America - 2016 Edition

Call it a twofer for American democracy, one for Small Town USA and the other for the entire nation.

Earlier this week our little town held it's school district and town meetings, the first steps in a two-step process that decides what our town will spend during the upcoming fiscal year. Each meeting of the town's residents deliberated school and town budgets and warrant articles that covered everything from zoning amendments to changes in how town government will run to funding outside agencies. One article even dealt with changing the classification of a dirt road from a town maintained road to an unmaintained road.

Some amendments to budgetary items and a few town warrant articles were made, those being the most debated issues addressed during the meetings. But for the most part both meetings were low energy with little real drama. Frankly, that's a bit unusual considering some of the school district and town meetings in the not-so-recent past.

It's amazing to see folks not blink twice when some spending articles total in the millions of dollars, with little discussion or debate, but lengthy and sometimes passionate debates over a spending article asking to spend a few hundred dollars. One would think it would be the other way around.

The outcome of these two meetings won't be known until we move on to the second step in the process next month, when the people in our town will vote to accept or reject all of the warrant articles as well as elect some town officials.

Early next week, specifically Tuesday, voters will head to the voting booths to vote during the New Hampshire primaries, helping to select the candidates from each party who are vying to be their party presidential nominees come this fall. Once done, the echoes of the candidates' speeches and campaign ads will rapidly fade away and be nothing but a memory by Wednesday evening, leaving us to recuperate in peace for the next few months until Election Day 2016 approaches.

And so it goes in small town America.

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