2018-01-25 / Editorial

Now is time for your voice to be heard

Representative democracies work best when those doing the representing are keenly aware of their constituents’ views.

During the next two-plus months, both the town council and school committee will host numerous meetings to outline and discuss their operating and capital budgets. These meetings provide residents ample opportunity to vet, question and debate those spending priorities. We encourage all interested Jamestowners to take advantage of this and let their thoughts be known.

The hearings on the town’s operational budget is broken down by department so if you’re only interested in, say, a public works issue or a police matter, then you can attend just that meeting.

While we’d like to see as many people as possible attend these sessions, the best way to have your voice heard is through a targeted, thought-out suggestion and not a blanket request for a department or item to be cut. Broad-based ideas rarely spur any type of helpful dialogue as people often retreat to and dig in on an absolutist view on the topic as opposed to participating in a nuanced conversation in which common ground may be found and acceptable solutions reached.

Alternate views also provide constructive input to town officials, showcasing potentially changing sentiments that may elucidate to the town council and school committee a sense of where the community wants to go compared to where it’s always been.

From a purely practical point of view, it’s also more likely any potential change you may want to see would happen at a budget hearing rather than the financial town meeting. Besides just the immediacy of that moment, it’s probably also easier to get three of five board members to be swayed by an argument than 50-plus residents at the FTM.

To help promote attendance and public awareness of the process, The Jamestown Press will donate advertising space to the town to publicize the budget hearings. It’s important we all do what we can to have our voices be heard and ensure our representatives pay keen attention to the democratic will of the people.

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