This week I went to the polls in the Town of Bourne and voted. In past elections, while I have not always voted for the winner, I would generally be pleased by the simple fact that I was able to participate in our democracy and exercise my right to choose between the candidates who would lead our town. Not so with this election.
This time, while everyone I voted for was a winner, every candidate running for office was unopposed, and one race had no one running.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t surprised. In the 40 years I’ve lived here I’ve witnessed a slow progression from enthusiasm to apathy. In 2011, we had to reduce the quorum for Town Meetings from 200 to 125 to start a meeting, and then 100 to keep it going. Other Cape towns have reduced the quorum to zero.
Bourne town committees (including the board of appeals) have had more than one vacancy for far too long. The selectmen can’t fill the slots because no one has volunteered.
I have often wondered why some people run for office, others volunteer to serve on committees, but most people don’t even vote, let alone actively participate in local government. Certainly, the failure to volunteer can sometimes be justified—illness, childcare and elder care issues come to mind.
Sometimes one’s job creates time or other conflicts that make it impossible to serve. But for most people, I’d like to think, the reason is they don’t realize their town needs them.
Our town has more than 13,000 registered voters. We all know many intelligent, fair-minded people who would serve this town well in any of the following positions for which there are vacancies: Bourne Zoning Board of Appeals, Bourne’s delegate to the Barnstable County HOME Consortium, Bourne’s delegate to the Barnstable County Human Rights Commission, Bourne Cultural Council, Bourne Financial Development Corporation Board of Directors, Bourne Housing Partnership Committee, Bourne Human Services Committee, Buzzards Bay Action Committee, Bylaw Committee, Bourne’s delegate to the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative, Commission on Disabilities, Bourne Historic Commission, Open Space Committee, Phase II Community Oversight Group for the Storm Water Management Group/Selectmen’s Task Force on Local Pollution, Private Road Acceptance Committee, Recreation Committee, Recycling Committee, Route 6A Advisory Committee, Selectmen’s Energy Advisory Committee, Special Works Opportunity Program, and the Wastewater Advisory Subcommittee on Commercial Sewers.
Please, our town cannot work efficiently without your help. Stop complaining about our town and act to make it better. Send your letter of interest to serve on a committee to the Town Administrator’s Office, 24 Perry Avenue, Buzzards Bay, MA 02532 or e-mail Tguerino@townofbourne.com.
Lee M. Berger
(Mr. Berger is chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, an at-large member of the Barnstable County HOME Consortium, and a member of the Bourne Housing Trust.)