Thousands Of Vermonters Weigh In On Local Issues

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(Host) Vermonters turned out by the thousands today at town meetings to decide local issues – and to help Republicans determine their presidential nominee.

In Burlington, a new mayor is being elected. Montpelier voters decide a hotly debated set of tax proposals.

All over the state, there are nonbinding questions about whether there should be a constitutional amendment overturning the idea that corporations can be treated as people.

We have a series of reports tonight. First, VPR’s Ross Sneyd takes a quick look across the state.

(Sneyd) In town halls and school gymnasiums and fire halls all over Vermont, the scene was a familiar one.

Vermonters bundled against the cold to help guide the annual decisions of their cities and towns.

In Tinmouth, the question was whether to go back to an old-fashioned way of government – and open floor town meeting.

No matter the outcome of that question – to be decided, ironically, through a secret ballot – voters reveled in self government.

Deb Thompson and Nelson Jaquay were on hand in Tinmouth.

(Thompson) "We look at what’s going in Washington and as citizens we are completely divorced from what’s going on down there. And yet here, we actually have the ability to stand up and take control of our government at the local level."

(Jaquay) "We become the Legislature of the town, wrestling with the issues, because that’s what it’s about. It’s a struggle. Democracy is not clean. It’s messy. But you gotta deal."

(Sneyd) And deal Vermonters have. On issues ranging from the continuing recovery from Tropical Storm Irene  to how to pay for schools.

No great statewide trends emerged from town meetings this year, except for the traditional pride in self-government that emerges on the first Tuesday of March every year.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

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