HomeLETTER TO THE EDITORLetter to the Editor: Representative Democracy and the Bylaw

Letter to the Editor: Representative Democracy and the Bylaw


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Barry Rosenberg, Westford Resident 

In a representative democracy, elected officials are supposed to represent the will of the people. But the will of most Americans never becomes law or policy on most issues. Campaign finance reform, universal background checks for gun sales and moving to alternative energy sources are just a few examples. These examples are partly explained by organizational and corporate lobbies coupled with politicians’ need to raise funds for reelection.

Westford, however, has the luxury of having a Town Meeting where we can vote directly, and volunteer boards, where reelection campaign funds are not a major issue.

The Select and Planning Boards, who are co-sponsoring the Firearm Businesses bylaw, have been “shelled” with feedback by citizens who want everything from zero firearm businesses to no limits on the number and no buffer zones between firearm businesses and other settings. Yet they have managed, with input from our police chief and town attorney, to come up with a reasonable compromise: a limit of 4 licenses, including a limit of 2 licenses for firearm and ammunition sales, and 500 foot buffer zones (except 1,000 feet between a firearm business and a school). https://shorturl.at/wKNP5

How well did the Planning and Select Boards do in representing Westford voters? I did a poll from July 29 to August 18 of Westford voters who attended Town meeting on March 25 and who are likely to attend Special Town Meeting on October 16th. Of all the voters who completed my survey, 90% wanted 4 or fewer permits and 90% wanted a minimum of 500 foot buffer zones between firearm businesses and other settings. 

The bylaw must pass by a 2/3 vote at Special Town Meeting. Is this a slam dunk? Not at all. Only 1 out of 42 registered voters attended Town Meeting this past March. If the few who oppose the bylaw proposal do considerably better at showing up to vote against it than the clear majority do to vote for it, the few will prevail and we will have no bylaw at all to limit the number and location of future firearm businesses.

Special Town Meeting is at Westford Academy Monday, Oct. 16 at 7pm. 

Make sure you’re registered to vote by Oct. 6. https://shorturl.at/pwCU4 

You can arrange free transportation and childcare. https://shorturl.at/jmCQX

On Oct. 16, we will have a chance to make representative democracy work for us. All we need is you.

Disclaimer: If you would like to submit a letter to the editor, contact managing editor Ben Domaingue at bdomaingue@westfordcat.org. Letters to the editor are reviewed and published at the discretion of the editor. Letters to the editor do not necessarily represent the opinions of WestfordCAT or its employees.  WestfordCAT retains the right to refuse any letter to the editor for publication as it deems necessary.

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