This November’s elections are strictly local. There are no national or state races. The focus is on town bodies: Boards of Education and Finance, etc. Their roles are clear; even the most apolitical Westporter can figure out what those members do.
The Representative Town Meeting — RTM — is less clear. But it’s as crucial to Westport as anything else on the ballot.
For over a century, Westport held an annual Town Meeting. This uniquely New England form of democratic government was great — until it grew unwieldy.
There are now 9; each elects 4 members, for 2-year terms. The RTM is responsible for:
- Final approval of the town budget. Members may also restore budget requests that were cut earlier in the process.
- Voting on requests for all appropriations over $20,000.
- Approving town ordinances.
- Reviewing certain decision of town boards and commissions, including Planning & Zoning.
RTM members must serve on 2 or more study committees, which review and make recommendations regarding appropriations and ordinances. Full RTM meetings are generally held on the first Tuesday of the month.
Sound like something you’d like to do?
Great! But you have to get moving.
The deadline for petitioning to run is tomorrow (Tuesday, September 10; petitions available in the Town Clerk’s office, Town Hall). Right now, 2 districts have only 3 candidates.
If you miss the petitioning deadline, you may run as a write-in candidate. To do that, you must register with the Secretary of the State before October 22.
The RTM is a powerful board. It is representative democracy at the most basic level. These are your representatives.
To find out more — including information about your district, and who your representatives are — click here.
(Hat tip: Former RTM member Pat Porio)