“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress in every society…”- Kofi Annan
Mike's Plan to Empower Citizens
Mike believes that the community would benefit from engaging in a dialogue and process about whether our current form of government best serves our community needs. The process of founding or amending a Town Charter is empowering and provides an opportunity for the community to discuss their government's ability to meet their needs.
One area of focus during this process that Mike believes requires in-depth discussion is the Open Town Meeting form of government. Philosophically, Mike finds this form of government to be the most democratic and empowering, as each resident can speak and vote based on their interests and concerns. However, in practice, a system that allows only a small percentage of the population to make decisions that impact the majority seems to disenfranchise more than it empowers. It rewards those who can attend while ignoring those who cannot attend due to legitimate reasons.
Therefore, Mike believes that the town of Wilbraham should have a thorough discussion about the operational mechanisms the citizens want to use to run their community.
Mike believes that the Selectboard would benefit from an increase in membership to five members. This change would allow for a wider range of perspectives and ideas, fostering more robust and productive discussions.
The Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) outlines the critical responsibilities of the Select Board, which include setting policy and strategy, coordinating with other boards, and resolving disputes. Mike believes that a larger board would be better equipped to handle these duties, leading to more effective and efficient decision-making.
In Mike's opinion, expanding the Selectboard would bring new energy to public discussions and promote a more dynamic atmosphere in board meetings, which can currently feel stagnant.
Mike believes that procedural education is essential to ensure that all citizens can participate in the town's decision-making process. He suggests using Wilbraham Public Access (WPA) and other avenues for education to educate and train people on the process of engaging in town business. This will empower citizens to participate in the decision-making process effectively and ensure that their voices are heard.
Mike has heard from individuals who are not familiar with the town meeting process, and he believes that knowledge is key to the success of any process. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the leadership to ensure that stakeholders have that knowledge.
Mike suggests that WPA can be used to help educate the public on the technical process of town meetings and provide updates about town programs and information through a type of talk-show. By working with strategic community partners, citizens, and town departments, WPA could be used to provide significant amounts of information to residents in a very interactive and easy to digest process. This will help promote transparency and encourage more citizens to engage in the town's decision-making process.