Town Meeting Day - A Vermont Tradition
Straight out of a Rockwell painting it seems. Vermont Town Meeting Day is a special day exclusively to Vermont and its residents. On the first Tuesday of every March, Vermont observes Town Meeting Day, a day on which the people of Vermont gather in public forums all over the state to “speak their mind” to their government officials, hold local elections, approve budgets, and conduct other town business. Town Meeting Day marks a special event in which residents meet in about 40 towns across Vermont.
Vermont town meetings (with one exception) are the practice of “direct democracy.” That is, eligible citizens of the town may vote on specific issues that are announced through a notice. The town meeting notice tells people when and where town meeting will be held, and it lists all of the articles (topics) that are going to be discussed and voted on at the meeting.
Town meeting 2019 will take place on Tuesday, March 5th. According to Vermont Statutes 17 a notice of the town meeting must be posted in at least two public places in the town and in or near the town clerk’s office.
Steeped in history, this Vermont tradition is rooted in the very core of the States democracy and the nation’s. President Coolidge (originally from Vermont) said in his famous Brave Little State speech, “I love Vermont because of her hills and valleys, her scenery and invigorating climate, but most of all because of her indomitable people. They are a race of pioneers who have almost beggared themselves to serve others. If the spirit of liberty should vanish in other parts of the Union, and support of our institutions should languish, it could all be replenished from the generous store held by the people of this brave little state of Vermont.”
It is with that true integrity and authenticity that Vermont continues to practice, to this day, the concept of normal, every day citizens working with their elected officials and governments to resolve challenges and embrace opportunities.
So as with tradition, Vermonters will assemble today in firehouses, gymnasiums or any other large venue that can hold half the town to hear from its citizens. Democracy will take place. Person to person, human to human.