Erasing the fear of reprisal

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On April 25, the readers of the Sun Journal were again treated to a fine example of journalistic arrogance.

“Ending the town meeting is a disappointing idea.” Oh, really? Well, no one is suggesting to end the town meeting. What is suggested is to vote by secret ballot rather than openly by a show of hands. Thirty years ago, when I moved to Maine, I was indeed like Alexis de Tocqueville, profoundly impressed by the town meeting form of government until I realized over the years that the system contained severe drawbacks.

Take the example of Mexico, a town with one of the highest mill rates in the state. By the end of 2003, a large amount of accounts had been overdrafted, the town was facing a deficit, the reserve had been used, a large surplus from the early ’90s had been used to keep the taxes stable. Why? Because of the endless and uncontrolled growth of the town budget. And, yes, Mexico had town meetings. I, as well as 30 or so other residents, rarely missed them. Mexico has a population of about 3,000 people.

So, I asked Mexico residents why they did not show up. The answers were multiple, but fear of reprisal and intimidation were the most commonly mentioned!

Jay’s residents have used the secret ballot for seven years. They are happy, no matter what your thoughts on the matter are. Joining the force since then are: Windsor, Monmouth, Ogunquit, Jefferson, Dover-Foxcroft, Lebanon and growing!

Monique Aniel, Mexico

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