Bedford voters gathered on Sabourin Field on Saturday morning to celebrate one of the great rituals of democracy, Open Town Meeting. Looking out over the socially-distanced crowd of 100+ voters, visitors, and Town staff, Moderator Cathy Cordes opened the meeting and exclaimed, “THIS is what DEMOCRACY looks like!”
Town Manager Sarah Stanton said, “Thanks to everyone [for] a true collaborative effort. We accomplished what we all wanted, for people to be safe, AND to be part of our important democratic process.”
Moderator Cordes added that she was “humbled by the turnout and the active participation of voters in the process of democracy. It is a proud moment for Bedford, and one for the history books!”
Both Stanton and Cordes credit town staff. “They’re all professionals who love Bedford and made the meeting seem effortless,” said Cordes. Members of every town department were on hand, from first responders ready for any emergency, through DPW crews, to administrative professionals helping to direct voters to their seats.
Bedford won the weather sweepstakes when Tropical Storm Fay took a westward tack, completely missing the town, leaving behind a strong breeze and puffy cumulus clouds. The temperature was in the high eighties, but the breeze and occasional shade when the sun hid behind the clouds made the morning tolerable.
The full warrant for the original meeting scheduled for March was pared to the bone with only essential votes remaining. One ‘essential’ that was retained? The Bedford Minuteman Company, posting the colors as they do in opening Annual Town Meeting each year.
Bedford MA Today moderator Lee Yates noted the number of ‘firsts’ at today’s meeting.
“Our first outdoor Town Meeting. Our first March Town Meeting in July. Our first TM with sunscreen, insect repellent, and spring water handed out to each voter. And the first TM where Rich Daugherty really did need a microphone!” Daugherty is known for his strong voice, carrying throughout the high school auditorium where town meetings are commonly held.
Bedford’s State Representative Ken Gordon added, “What a great turnout. At least 100, likely more. Respectful discussions .. .. .. Great job by the town to supply masks, waters, bug screen, sunscreen, and even a souvenir fan.” (Editor’s note: the souvenir fans did double duty, also serving as easily seen voting cards as the meeting progressed.) “As others found reasons to postpone their gatherings, Bedford toughed it out and got its business done,” Rep. Gordon continued.
There will be several articles about the decisions that were made during the meeting, and they will appear in The Bedford Citizen early next week. But in the meanwhile, please enjoy these images of the day.
A selection of images from Annual Town Meeting on Sabourin Field this morning.