Townspeople in Andover don’t take lightly the fact that the first recorded town meeting was held in settler John Osgood’s home in 1656.
And the fact that Andover has sustained an open town meeting form of government — in which all registered voters are eligible to participate — is an immense source of pride.
Like most years, a lot will be at stake when the annual Town Meeting commences Monday night in the field house at Andover High School. Some proposed measures, like funding for a youth center and expanded programming for seniors, have been in the works for years. Voters will also have a chance to weigh in on zoning changes, land purchases, improvements to the schools and the town’s annual operating budget.
Town officials see many of the warrant articles as an opportunity to move the town forward, to encourage economic growth and to make critical improvements for the town’s youths, its students and its seniors.
A group of residents who have launched townofandover.com is mobilizing a counter campaign and will be urging voters to take a hard look at spending, which they argue has grown out of control in Andover.
Indeed, there will be plenty for townspeople to consider over the course of Town Meeting, which is scheduled to stretch over three nights next week. But the important thing to remember is you as residents have the choice and to exercise it. The open Town Meeting structure has been called the most democratic form of government because it allows every person a say. But it only succeeds if people seize the opportunity.