It’s important for Democrats to get involved on their town level, perhaps growing to County-wide and even State involvement. We’re a grass-roots party, so who knows where you might end up!
The State of Vermont makes it easy for you to be involved in local politics. The annual town meeting is only one way for you to be involved and have your voice heard. You can also attend public meetings of the Selectboard and town committees. All of them are required to be open to the public and usually there is a time for citizens to speak to specific concerns. Sign up for your local listserv to get notices of all the meetings scheduled in your town.
If you are ready to take your interest in civic life to the next level, why not put your name on the ballot in your town to serve in an official role? Most towns require only that you are a voting resident of the town to serve in some capacity. Some of these tasks require only a few hours each month, other have weekly meetings that might require hours of preparation. All of them are volunteer positions.
Here are some of the places where you can get your start in local decision-making as well as build connections with your neighbors. This is how we build community.
- The primary governing body of Vermont towns in Windsor County are Selectboards. Each town has a different number of members who serve for two or three years. These are elected positions.
- Every town has a specific number of Justices of the Peace who help at elections, adjudicate property tax assessments, and can conduct marriages. These are elected positions.
- Although the structure of school boards in the state has undergone a major change in the past few years, positions on those school boards require local citizens. These are elected positions.
- Many towns have positions specific to the Cemeteries, measuring cord wood if there is a disagreement, and so on, and some remain unfilled as the times have changed.
- Not all positions are on a ballot. If you want to serve your community, but don’t want to be on a ballot, consider volunteering for one of the town committees that is appointed by the Selectboard.
- If you are interested in history, consider serving on the Cemetery Commission.
- If you have a knack for numbers, you might like serving on a town Finance Committee.
- If you are concerned about climate change, maybe the Energy Committee is right for you.
- Many towns have a Conservation Commission that advises the Selectboard on recreation, trails, land use, and the like.
If you are interested in any of these positions, a great place to start is talking to someone who is now serving on that committee or in the position. You can find that on the town webpage or simply call the Town Clerk and ask how to contact persons serving on a specific committee or board. Find out what the job entails and what the person finds most interesting about their work.
If it is an elected position, your town clerk will give you a simple form to fill out to get on the ballot so your neighbors can select you. It’s called a “consent” form and merely states that you give your “consent” to put your name on the ballot. (They must have invented this form after they had too many pranksters signing up neighbors for jobs they didn’t want). Sometimes you are required to get town voters to sign a petition that will endorse your name on the ballot. Don’t worry, the people who sign the petition don’t have to support all of your positions, they are just agreeing that you should be allowed on the ballot. The petition requirement has been waived during the pandemic.
Remember that there are lots of people and resources available to help you be successful in your job. Thanks for stepping up.
Here are some links to help further your search and your understanding: