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  • Writer's pictureEthan Dezotelle

Thank You, Franklin Voters

It was a really weird Town Meeting Day this year.

For starters, there was no traditional Town Meeting in Franklin (or any other Vermont town, for that matter). Paper ballots were mailed to all registered voters in town, and an informational meeting was held via Zoom. Voters could still cast ballots in person at the town hall on Town Meeting Day if they wanted to, but for safety’s sake, voting by mail was encouraged.

Without an in-person Town Meeting, whatever debate there was got done at the Zoom meeting or between folks in casual conversation. The lack of a traditional Town Meeting also meant that ballot items couldn’t be amended from the floor.

Franklin Homestead & Carriage House had an appropriation request up for consideration on the Town Meeting Day ballot this year. We asked voters to support providing a sum of $5,000 to help out with service fees at Franklin Carriage House.

Under the unusual circumstances, we weren’t sure how things would go. New appropriation requests are always met with extra scrutiny, and understandably so. But without the opportunity to engage in conversation and consider possible amendments from the floor, there was a bit of trepidation over the outcome.

So how did the vote turn out? Well, I’ll tell you, but first, let’s look at how turnout went on Town Meeting Day.

Franklin has 961 registered voters, and 348 ballots ended up being cast between the mail and in-person voting. That’s a little over a third of voters filling out ballots. Pretty good for Town Meeting Day. A vast majority of ballots were submitted through the mail, from what I understand.

After the polls closed and the ballots were counted, we were pleased to find that our appropriation request was overwhelmingly approved by voters.

The final count was 259-74.

The residents, staff, and board of Franklin Homestead & Carriage House thank the voters so much for their support. The vote came at the end of our first pandemic year, and we understand that additional spending is nothing to be taken lightly, whether on our end with asking or on the voters’ end with approving.

To those who did not support the article, thank you for voting too. While the outcome clearly shows lots of support for the appropriation, 74 votes to the contrary is enough to indicate that there’s work to be done somewhere on our end.

Speaking for myself, I’d love to have 74 conversations about what, if anything, would have changed votes from “no” to “yes.”

With Town Meeting Day voting behind us, the question becomes, “What about next Town Meeting Day?”

As we’ve shared before, we hope to approach the neighboring towns of Berkshire, Highgate, and Sheldon – towns without facilities of their own, thus giving them prioritized preference after Franklin residents – for appropriations next year, in addition to Franklin. It’s way too early to say what any appropriation requests will look like.

As our board chair, Jay Hartman, pointed out at the town’s Zoom informational meeting last month, we’re in the midst of strategic planning, exploring a number of options for the future. To suggest dollar amounts to be voted on a year from now would be very presumptuous.

But as the person charged with heading up fundraising here, I’ll tell you this: my goal is to place an article on the 2022 Franklin Town Meeting Day ballot that is no more than it was this year, and I’d really love for it to be less.

Thanks for reading, and thanks again for your support.

To see full Franklin Town Meeting Day voting results, click here.

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