“Town meetings are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they bring it within the people’s reach, they teach men how to use and how to enjoy it.” –Alex de Tocqueville
This past week, Chilmark select board member Warren Doty announced he will retire at the end of his term in May. Warren’s retirement marks a good time for us to consider how Chilmark functions, and some important roles residents can play.
Warren reminded us, “Small town government in Massachusetts is not like a business. There is no organizational chart with a CEO at the top of the pyramid.” Instead there is a “web of authority” structured around collective decisionmaking. Most decisions are made by committee, and members must be experts in consideration, courtesy, and compromise. This is quite different from what most people experience in their professional and social lives. Warren was superb, and will be missed.
Every select board meeting must be convened in open session. Anyone can participate, speak, and be heard, and serve on our many town bodies. According to the Chilmark town website, “The board of selectmen functions as the chief executive officer of the town. The power of the board is stipulated by Massachusetts General Laws and town bylaws. The board carries out the measures voted by the town. Selectmen appoint all nonelected town officials and members to all nonelected boards, committees, and commissions. Selectmen are elected for three-year terms.”
Annual town election nomination papers for Warren’s seat are available at the town clerk’s office, and are due to the board of registrars by 5 pm, March 8.
There are other important openings as well. Chilmark town administrator Timothy Carroll said, “There is a vacancy on the human resources board. It has been lacking a member and the elected staff member for over a year. People interested in getting involved are invited to attend any board meeting they can, especially before April while we are still doing Zoom meetings.”
I also received the following email from Jennifer Christy, Chilmark town clerk: “The town has been in need of a registrar on the board of registrars after longtime board member Judy Mayhew stepped down in the spring of 2022. In the state of Massachusetts, every city and town must have a board of registrars or election commission, whose responsibilities include registering voters, making local listings of residents, certifying nomination papers and petitions, processing absent voter applications, and administering election recounts. Members of the board serve three-year terms, must be registered voters in the city or town in which they serve, and cannot serve as election officers on election days. The board of registrars must always contain, as nearly as possible, representatives from the two leading political parties (Democrats and Republicans). The board is currently in need of a member who is a registered Republican voter. Please contact the Chilmark select board with your interest: email@example.com, 508-645-2100.
In the past three years, the population of the town has increased around 40 percent. Chilmarkers have a history of pulling on our boots and showing up, and I don’t expect that will ever change.
Goings on this week:
Native Earth Teaching Farm is open by appointment, 508-645-3304. Come say hi, or book a farm tour or classroom visit.
Friday, Jan. 13, We Dance, 7:30 pm. Performances by Island Hip Hop and Jesse Jason, Abby Bender, Laura Sargent Hall, and Katie Federowicz Perez. At 8 pm until whenever, DJ KB
(Keith Bassett) takes to the decks with world beats, electronica house, conscious hip-hop, and reggae music.
Saturday, Jan. 14, 7 to 9 pm, doors open at 6:30 pm, Pathways presents singer-songwriters Jodi Treloar Sampson, Anthony Loffredio, Mike Benjamin, and Casey Hayward.
Because of a surge in COVID cases, the Chilmark Community Church’s winter-season free Tuesday night suppers have been paused. They hope to restart when the upswing in COVID has passed.
Peaked Hill Studio: Wednesday, Pelvic Floor Fitness, 8:30 am; Yoga, 4:30pm. Thursday, Yoga, 4:30 pm.
If you have any Chilmark Town Column suggestions, email Claire Ganz, firstname.lastname@example.org.