To the editor:
I would like to thank the 249 Little Compton voters who convened at the May 20 Special Town Meeting and Annual Financial Town Meeting. As usual, both the percentage and the actual number of participants were close to the very highest among Rhode Island communities that continue to adopt budgets and approve expenditures at town meeting.
I am a traditionalist—perhaps something of a romantic—about the principles of grass-roots democracy embodied in the institution of town meeting, which has functioned continuously and effectively in Little Compton for over 300 years. I believe town-meeting government remains viable and valuable in our community. Whatever the institution’s shortcomings—and there are some—the right of direct citizen participation and decision-making available at town meeting should not be taken for granted.
This year’s Financial Town Meeting lasted only a few hours, but numerous town officials and citizens devoted much time and effort to preparation for the session. With apologies to those I may be omitting, I wish to thank in particular Assistant Moderator David Borden, the volunteer tellers who assisted during the meeting, Town Clerk Carol Wordell, Town Sergeant Paul Borges, the Budget Committee (especially chair Scott Morrison), the Town Council, and Business Manager Tom Dunn.
As elected town moderator, I have presided over Little Compton’s Financial Town Meeting for eight years (four terms). It has been an interesting, challenging, and mostly enjoyable experience. It is a near certainty that some voters will leave town meeting unhappy with the outcome. But, as town moderator, I have tried to ensure that all — or at least most — voters are satisfied that the process by which that outcome is determined has been fair, transparent and civil.
Some may recall that in 2012 I did not run for re-election as town moderator. In the absence of other candidates, however, I was elected on a write-in basis and agreed to serve another term. I will not be running for the office this year, and I will not serve if elected on a write-in basis. There are certainly other town residents who are capable of doing a good job in the position. It’s time for someone else to give it a try.
I encourage other Little Compton residents to declare their candidacies for town moderator before the late June filing deadline. The particular qualifications (other than general life experience) required for this unique position can really only be learned on the job. I would be glad to share my thoughts and experiences, for whatever they may be worth, with anyone who might contemplate running for the office.
I look forward to taking part in town meeting in the future — but from the other side of the podium.
Thanks again to Little Compton voters and officials for their constructive participation in this year’s Special Town Meeting and Financial Town Meeting.
Little Compton town moderator