Opinion: Why Hopkinton citizens should vote against SB 2

Residents weigh in during past Hopkinton town meetings.

Residents weigh in during past Hopkinton town meetings. Photos by Bob LaPree

Photos by Bob LaPree, a photographer and resident of Hopkinton. Hopkinton town meetings.

Photos by Bob LaPree, a photographer and resident of Hopkinton. Hopkinton town meetings. Courtesy—

Photos by Bob LaPree

Photos by Bob LaPree Photos by Bob LaPree


Published: 02-28-2024 6:00 AM

Modified: 03-06-2024 1:08 PM

Janet Ward lives in Contoocook.

Doris Haddock, known by many as “Granny D”, walked across America at the age of 90 to call attention to the need for campaign finance reform. She did it because she believed that “Democracy is not something we have, but something we do.”

I believe my attendance since 1978 at Hopkinton’s town and school district meetings is “doing democracy.” Yes, it means that once a year I spend time, sometimes several hours, with my fellow Hopkinton citizens in order to listen to explanations of warrant articles, to ask questions about them, and to hear what others have to say about them. Then, as a community, we vote. This is what “doing democracy” means.

Some who champion SB 2 note that not everyone’s schedule makes it possible for them to attend town meetings or school district meetings. It is impossible to schedule such meetings so that it will be convenient for everyone to attend. There will always be some folks whose schedules make it difficult for them to attend. That is simply a fact.

As for the inconvenience of sitting through long meetings, especially for older residents, I can certainly appreciate that. However, whether we like it or not, whether it is convenient or not, the reality is that it sometimes takes a fair amount of time to carefully explain and discuss important warrant articles. It takes time to let everyone who wishes to comment come to the microphone to share their views. This is why I see so many folks wisely bringing pillows and snacks into these meetings with them.

In an SB2 town, a deliberative session is scheduled. Items on the town’s warrant are presented. Discussion may take place. Voting does not take place during a deliberative session. Instead, there is a time lapse between the deliberative session and voting. This is a dangerous time because during this period misinformation can be circulated. In an SB 2 town, there is no opportunity for those with accurate information to respond and correct errors prior to voting. Therefore, voters who have not participated in a discussion of warrant articles but may have received purposefully circulated misinformation may go into the voting booth without critically important information about the issues for which they will cast their votes.

Town and school district meetings provide an opportunity for Hopkinton voters to reason together, to literally share the task of governing ourselves by discussing issues of importance that affect us all. Then, once we have respectfully asked our questions and gathered the information necessary to make informed decisions on warrant articles, we vote.

Town meetings and school district meetings are once-a-year precious opportunities to do democracy together.