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To The Editor:
I would like to personally thank the approximately 180 people who attended last week's Town Meeting in Waitsfield. While only a third of the 527 people who voted in the town officials' race attended, it was two and one-half times last year's estimate of only 70 attendees. No doubt the contentious issues of sidewalks, underground lines and the Australian ballot accounted for most of this large increase. While pleased with the 40 percent support for an Australian ballot, I am even more gratified by the shared concern in increasing participation by various means although I still feel that increasing opportunity and access is the most effective and fairest option.
It is interesting to speculate on what would have happened on the $400,000 and $300,000 amendments to bury Bridge Street power lines if attendance was at last year's level of approximately 70 people. Those amendments failed by only 18 and 27 votes. It is reasonable to assume that a great majority of the 66 supporters of the Australian ballot would have been opposed to floor amendments of this magnitude and probably provided the majority to defeat these expenditures.
The point here is the downside of our "democratic Town Meeting floor votes" where due to low participation a small committed minority can act for the majority.