Bringing Your Questions and Comments to a Public Meeting….or Not

By Victoria Mishcon, Andover Selectboard Member

Are you a person who hesitates to attend a town public meeting because you are too shy or hesitant to bring up questions or concerns in a public setting? Or are you a person who waits for the opportunity to voice your many frustrations to your elected officials, the more public the setting, the better? Maybe you are somewhere in between.
Wherever you are on the continuum, you have a right to attend a public meeting of any of the boards in town.

Public attendance at a meeting does not guarantee public participation. Not all towns include time for public participation at their Select Board meetings, though Andover traditionally does.

In order to be able to run a meeting where all members of the public feel comfortable, and the business of the past two weeks can be attended to, we are providing the following rules for public participation:

                                     Welcome to the Meeting!

1) If you have a question or comment, you will be given three minutes to address the Board.
2) Please address the Board from your seat or from the podium provided.
3) The Chair of the Board will recognize you when it is your turn to speak.
4) Please be respectful to the people you are addressing and to other members of the public.
5) Disruption of the meeting (refusing to stop speaking, threatening behavior) will result in your being asked to leave. An officer is here to intervene if necessary.

If you have an issue that will require more time than is available at a regular Select Board meeting, please contact the Town Administrator. Sometimes a discussion with the Town Administrator can settle your issue. The Select Board can also be available to meet with you by appointment, if necessary.

For the Select Board, a public meeting is posted 24 hours in advance on the front door of the Town Office, and on the town website. We meet twice a month on the first and third Monday at 6:30 PM. Once you arrive at the meeting, there is an agenda, which usually begins with a report from the Road Agent. Then we move through Old Business, New Business, Correspondence and Signatures and finally, reviewing and accepting minutes of previous meetings. Sometimes an organization or an individual has contacted the Town Administrator ahead of time to discuss a specific topic and is placed on the agenda. If a member of the public is present and there is time in the agenda, they will be given an opportunity to address the Board.

We are your elected officials and we want to serve you as best we can. Please help us by letting us know your questions and concerns in a way that will allow us to provide the best response and the most help.