WELLFLEET — Fans of civic life here paraded, sun hats in hand, onto the baseball field across from the elementary school for their annual (or semi-annual, in this case) town meeting on Saturday.
After most had checked in by the dugout and received either a neon green voter card or instructions on where nonresidents could find bleacher seating, Moderator Dan Silverman took the mound and prepared to lob each of the 54 articles on the warrant at the 266 voters arrayed across the infield.
Asked what drew her to the meeting, Mary Fox, a 23-year resident, said, “I want to assert my privilege of voting.”
Standing next to her was John Connors, who joked, “I come to give the town the benefit of my presence, which it desperately needs.”
It was a perfect early summer day, and while most sat in folding chairs, a few came ready to relax, setting up beach chairs, blankets, umbrellas, and coolers in the outfield.
Silverman commenced the event formally with a reminder of the importance of this ritual.
“Town meeting is the most basic form of democracy we have,” said the moderator.
With most articles passing unanimously, the voters seemed all to be playing for the same team.
The longest discussion was about Article 1, which included an override for the town’s operating budget. Most speakers supported it, encouraging others to think of the services, including library hours and preschool vouchers, that would otherwise be cut.
“Call the vote!” shouted a voice from the crowd after 30 minutes of discussion.
“That is not how we do things here,” said Silverman. Town meeting requires civility and follows procedure, he said. Article 1 passed by an overwhelming vote.
The discussion of Article 48, a citizen-petitioned tree preservation resolution, provoked the least traditional discussion of the meeting, when Kathleen Stafford led a meditative breathing exercise.
“I invite you all to take a deep breath in,” she said, pausing to inhale, “and appreciate this fresh air we have,” she continued. “The trees are giving us this oxygen,” Stafford said. The article, after a few adjustments, passed by majority vote.
Article 15, which called for another override to fund the hiring of two new full-time police officers due to the end of the summer staffing program, received applause when it passed.
In its most heartening resemblance to a baseball game, town meeting brought the residents of Wellfleet together.
“The best part of town meeting is seeing my neighbors,” John Connors said.