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May 08. 2013 11:04PM

Sanbornton to vote again on SB2

SANBORNTON - For the 13th time, voters will be asked whether they want to switch to the Senate Bill 2 form of town government at next week's Town Meeting.

The question has been brought before voters 12 times in the nearly 20 years since state legislators permitted towns to let residents make major town decisions by paper ballot.

Each time, residents have defeated the issue, though last year's the question to switch to a Senate Bill 2 system failed by only about 20 votes, said Budget Committee Chairman Earl Leighton, Jr.

About a third of the state's residents and more than half its student population live under SB-2 rule, in which warrant articles dealing with budgets, town purchases and zoning articles are discussed and potentially amended at a deliberative session prior to voting at town polls.

The issue will be discussed at Town Meeting on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the Sanbornton Central School.

Evelyn Auger has been a vocal opponent of SB-2 every time the question has been raised in town. She favors the town meeting system, which she called the most democratic way of governing a town.

"Town meeting has worked for 200 years, and it's certainly not broken," she said.

Residents need the opportunity to discuss warrant articles and issues at a town meeting, and turning to a ballot box for such decisions takes away that liberty, she said.

"You can't amend anything at a ballot box," Auger said. "If you really care about participating in government, Town Meeting is important."

Leighton favors SB-2 for several reasons. He worries that the elderly and people who work during the day have trouble getting to Town Meeting.

"A lot of people's lives are too busy to attend Town Meeting," he said.

SB-2's ballot voting system would assure "a good 500-600 voters on election day," he said, versus the dwindling number of residents who have come to Town Meeting in recent years.

"It used to be that we'd get more than 200 people coming each year, and now it's about 160," he said. "I'd rather have 600 people voting at ballots than 160 people who come to Town Meeting with an agenda."


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