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The Valley Reporter
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Waitsfield, VT 05673
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Petition procedure quite simple in Warren

01/24/2008

By Barry Simpson

I would like to request a correction to the statement in the lead article of last week's issue that placed Warren among the towns that nominate and elect town officers from the floor of the Town Meeting. Warren moved to the petition and Australian ballot system a number of years ago for some very good reasons.

First of all, it promotes the considered self-judgment, in consultation with others that is required to meet the interest and time commitments entailed in serving as a town officer in the ever-increasing complexity of local government. Write-in candidacies are allowed and honored (the mayor of Barre was elected this way a few years ago), but the emphasis is on forethought and discussion of the merits of various candidacies before voting day. The petition procedure is actually quite simple in Warren: You indicate your intention to the Town Clerk, hang your petition on the bulletin board in the Clerk's Office, and you'll most likely have all the signatures you need by the date specified (January 28 this year).

Secondly, The Valley has excellent opportunities to make your candidacy and your preferences known to voters and other interested persons well in advance of Town Meeting. <MI>The Valley Reporter<D> regularly publishes candidacy announcements and platforms and frequently hosts candidate forums for area-wide offices.  Warren always schedules a candidates' forum for all petitioners and write-in candidates in time for it to be shown several times on MRVTV, our local access cable channels 44 and 60. Other opportunities include WMRW radio station at 95.1 FM as well as the old standbys of bulletin boards, personal visits, phone, mail and e-mail.

Thirdly, the scheduled municipal portion of the Warren meeting has recently been extended from two to three hours to accommodate debate on the articles without nominations and voting for officers, and the candidates forum usually takes an hour or more to complete on a separate occasion. Attempting to include both functions in the morning session would unnecessarily prolong the municipal discussion and try the patience of the attendees, resulting in drastically reduced attendance at the school session in the afternoon where three-fourths of the total expenditures are decided.

And lastly, enabling all the petitioned candidacies as well as write-ins to be included on one ballot allows any voter to participate in determining who the elected officers will be, whether or not they are present at the full morning session or just when the election of officers is discussed, or at any time during the 12 hours that the polls are open that they are able to leave work or other obligations to come in and vote.  

The advancement of Vermont town government is well served by the petition and pre-printed ballot system. It allows townspeople to fully consider their interest in serving as a town officer and assess their capabilities and time available. And it gives the voters, including absentees, the most reasonable opportunity to participate within their own time constraints.   
                                         
Barry Simpson is a member of the Warren Select Board

Editor's Note: The Valley Reporter regrets last week's incorrect information and has published a 'for the record' this week.
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