A Gathering of Neighbors
Preparations are underway for Hingham’s Annual Town Meeting. Imagine your neighborhood of about twenty households getting together to hire landscapers and snow plowing. Then imagine your neighborhood combines with other neighborhoods to purchase other shared services and set rules for the combined neighborhoods. As the number and scope of shared services grows, people are hired to administer those services on behalf of the citizens. The residents also elect volunteer citizens to serve on various boards part-time and act as the executive branch of local government. Throughout the year the boards hold public hearings on important town issues. Once a year all the households get together to make decisions on a shared budget and rules.
Incredibly, almost four centuries later (386 years) neighbors still gather for what we in New England call a Town Meeting. It may be hard to imagine that form of governance has survived so long in Hingham even as our population exceeds 22,000 and the shared operating budget is over $100 million.
Come One and Come All
The Town Meeting is the simplest form of democracy. The Board of Selectmen summons the Town Meeting to gather by issuing the Warrant, which is the list of items to be voted on. The Town Moderator officiates the meeting by reading each article, explaining it, and making sure the rules of parliamentary procedure are followed. All registered voters are free to attend, speak and vote on any and all articles.
Many Town Meeting articles deal with routine items such as amending zoning bylaws, accepting easements or transferring of funds between departments. This year there are several important warrant articles as well as significant budget decisions. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected many parts of our town with particular impact on the learning and social/emotional condition of our students. The budget for FY22 reflects important investments in education, town services and infrastructure. Of course, the Town Meeting doesn’t happen without extensive preparation by town leaders and volunteer citizens who review proposals and budget submissions. The results of their review are included in the Town Warrant as commentary and recommendations.
Please attend this year’s Town Meeting on Saturday, May 8, 2021 at 2:00 PM outdoors at Hingham High School. The rain dates are Saturday, May 15, 2021 at 2:00 PM and Sunday, May 16, 2021 at 2:00 PM. The meeting will be held observing all CDC guidelines. Be informed by reading the Town Warrant and the important work that has transpired over the past six months to guide citizens’ decisions. You can learn more about the budget process by viewing Select Board, School Committee and Advisory Committee meetings that are archived on the Harbor Media YouTube channel. Also, don’t forget to vote on Saturday, May 22. Remember the responsibility that we all have to each other and for future generations of Hingham citizens.
Glenn Mangurian has been a resident of Hingham for 35 years. He is a retired business leader with more than four decades of experience driving innovation and results with his clients. Glenn remains active with his writing, speaking, family, and community.
In May 2001, Glenn suffered an injury to his spinal cord, resulting in the paralysis of his lower body. Drawing on his personal experience, he authored an article titled “Realizing What You’re Made Of,” which was published in March 2007 in the Harvard Business Review. In May 2017 he published his first book, Pushing the Edge of Thought, Possibility and Action – Questions and Insights from Everyday Life.
Glenn Mangurian can be reached at: [email protected]