Town Meeting advocates want a state holiday

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(Host) The institution of Town Meeting in Vermont could be strengthened if lawmakers took steps to make it easier for workers to get time off to attend their local town meeting. That’s the opinion of UVM political science professor Frank Bryan, who’s the co-author of a new book about Town Meeting entitled, “All Those in Favor.”

Speaking Tuesday night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Bryan said Town Meeting Day should be celebrated as a holiday and thought of as a day to honor and celebrate democracy:

(Bryan) “Turn Martin Luther King day into a democratic holiday call it Democracy Day in his name. And Town Meeting can be held in the towns that have town meetings, in cities you could have parades, plays or concerts – just a full statewide celebration of this enduring example of democracy.”

(Host) The book’s other co- author, Susan Clark, says it’s critical for employers to recognize the importance of Town Meeting:

(Clark) “Protect voting the way we protect jury duty. If I’m called up for jury duty, if I need to get time off from work to do that we’re protected. We’d like to see people’s right to vote protected as well. And Town Meeting sometimes takes hours and would take hours away from work but boy I think it’s a contribution that’s well worth it.”

(Host) Clark says recent studies indicate that residents of communities that hold a town meeting have a greater sense being connected to their neighbors than people who live in towns that don’t hold a meeting.

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