On Monday, Oct. 22, at Ayer's fall Town Meeting, voters will again be asked to decide what they have already decided. In a repeat of the May Town Meeting, the Board of Selectmen is copying three articles from the May meeting into the October meeting so they can appoint rather than have you elect Ayer's treasurer and tax collector. And for the third time in five months, the Board of Selectmen is asking voters to approve what voters rejected twice before.
The three May articles, now numbered Articles 2, 3 and 4 for the October Town Meeting, if passed by majority votes at the fall Town Meeting, will overturn 141 years of Ayer history by eliminating the right of voters to elect their treasurer and tax collector. And it will give the Board of Selectmen permanent bylaw authority to pick and dismiss who they want.
Article 2 asks for the creation of a Finance Department. Article 3 changes the Ayer treasurer from an elected office to an appointed office. Article 4 abolishes the elected office of Ayer tax collector, creates a new office called town collector, and permits the Ayer Board of Selectmen to pick who they want.
The issue is clear: Whether Ayer voters should retain their right to elect Ayer's treasurer and tax collector.
This Town Meeting is one of the most important in the lifetime of all who will attend it. While each Town Meeting article is important, these articles are especially important. Their resolution answers the most fundamental question of whether the people retain their right to vote for whom they choose to represent them or whether the Ayer Board of Selectmen pick who they want.
Like our ancestors in 1776, we wrestle with the question, how should our leaders be chosen in a representative democracy? By direct vote of the people or by the pick of a few?
If you believe, as I do, that power lies with the people to vote for whom they choose, then you must be at the Town Meeting on Monday, Oct. 22, to vote no on Articles 2, 3 and 4. Indifference will pass these articles. Only active and involved voters can save their right to vote.
Americans are doers and not observers, and on these three fundamental articles, we cannot sit idly by watching another freedom slip from our fingers because we were too busy doing something else or we believed that someone else would act for us. Some issues beg for and demand action. Articles 2, 3 and 4 are those issues.
A Board of Selectmen win would signal to them that the way to victory is not putting forth the best ideas, listening to the people, or even respecting their votes. The way to victory is to keep taking shots at the net until they score and you lose. Democracy is not a game. It is a means of governing by which political ideas and thought are debated and then decided to resolve issues through the rule of law. It is not a means by which one side that has the power takes advantage of that power to put forth their ideas ad infinitum until they win.
It doesn't have to be this way. The time to act is right now. Ayer Town Meeting is Monday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m., at the Ayer-Shirley Regional School District High School Auditorium. Please be there. Bring a like-minded family member or friend. Make your voice heard. Make your vote count.
Now is not the time to give up or back down. You can win, but you must be there. Keep the right to vote for who you want. Please vote no on Articles 2, 3 and 4. Elect your treasurer and tax collector. Don't let the Ayer Board of Selectmen pick them for you.