The editorial pages are full again this week with letters from citizens of Alna, who will vote Dec. 14 on proposed changes to the select board structure. I received 40 letters since September related to this vote, 30 just in the last two weeks.
Between Nate Poole’s reporting and all these many letter writers, The Lincoln County News has provided extensive coverage since two Alna residents submitted a petition at the end of August to change the structure of the select board so that selectmen share responsibilities evenly, receive the same amount of pay, and each serve three-year terms.
These proposed changes appear under Article 4 of the warrant for the special referendum town meeting that Alna residents will vote to accept or deny on Dec. 14. Check it out at alna.maine.gov.
The next logical questions are why and why now?
Even though this is an “editorial,” I’m not going to answer those questions because my own editorializing about the concerns of Alna is beside the point. I don’t live there. My conjectures about why and why now couldn’t matter less.
And, as is almost always the case, my prismatic owl-like vision allows me to understand a multiplicity of perspectives. I am not particularly interested in swaying readers one way or another on Alna’s – or any other – issue. I am more concerned with encouraging them to move beyond high emotion to clear informed thinking that focuses on the issue or issues at hand.
Suffice to say that while some Alna residents support changes to the select board, others want to maintain the current structure of first, second and third selectmen with the first selectman elected one year and carrying more responsibility, and receiving more pay, than the second and third selectmen seated together in a separate election cycle.
Then there are those who want to slow down the process, form a committee to look deeply at the select board, and recommend changes at the annual town meeting in March. That’s Article 5.
This is perhaps a grossly simplified nutshell of what is for Alna a complex and meaningful concern. It is not my intention to diminish it in my reduction. Rather, it is to present it in the distilled language of an observer.
And, like I said, I personally see the merits of yes, no, and wait.
What I am adamant about is this: People who live in Alna care about Alna.
No matter how the vote turns out, rest assured that as long as people in Alna – in any town – keep speaking up for what they believe is right (or wrong) for their community, the “end days drama” predicted by some letter writers will never come.
The sun will not metaphorically go down and never come back up in Alna, or anywhere else, as long as there are people actively, civically engaged in the town’s government.
Like the Lorax says, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.”
It is when citizens turn away from their municipalities in apathy and indifference that worries me more.
Fortunately, I see no evidence of that in Lincoln County.