TRURO — To Paul Wisotzky, annual town meeting is not so different from Thanksgiving dinner.
“You spend days cooking and then you eat the meal in 20 minutes,” he said. As a former chair of the select board, he has helped prepare the feast. As a voter, he has savored it. Now he’d like to preside over it.
Wisotzky declared his write-in candidacy for moderator in a letter to the editor in last week’s Independent. “I’m running for moderator because I believe strongly in participatory democracy and have consistently been a committed citizen of our beloved Truro,” he wrote.
Since moving to town 16 years ago, he’s attended every town meeting. “I love it,” he said.
The discretionary power of the moderator has been widely discussed during this town meeting season. According to the town charter, the moderator’s role is to preside over town meeting and appoint the finance committee. Also per the charter, the moderator is elected for a three-year term.
Monica Kraft’s term was up this year, but that fact eluded the attention of town hall staff.
The snafu was a “Covid-ism that should have been caught,” according to Town Clerk Kaci Fullerton, who started her job in July 2021. The town election, normally held on the second Tuesday in May, was postponed to late June in 2020. Because of that delay, the end of Kraft’s three-year term escaped notice, Fullerton said.
Once she caught the mistake, she said, she added the moderator position to the ballot. But there are no candidates listed. Because the position wasn’t announced as open, no one took out papers to run. Wisotzky is running as a write-in on May 9 because by the time the position was listed, the nomination period had closed, he said.
Wisotzky said he’s noticed over the years that each moderator has a distinct style.
Asked what his might be, he said it is “to be welcoming and warm and to bring a little levity at the appropriate times. I think that helps people feel comfortable and valued.” He believes that can lead to more meaningful dialogue.
In addition to his six years on the select board, three as chair, Wisotzky is currently a member of the Walsh Property Community Planning Committee (which he formerly co-chaired) and is the governor’s appointee to the Truro Housing Authority.
He is under no illusions about the position being easy. “It’s a hard job,” he said. “There’s energy in the room; there’s emotion in the room, and you have to channel that into the proper procedures and rules and make it productive.”
Had Kraft realized her term was up, she said, she might have taken out papers to run again. But she’s unperturbed.
“Maybe I’ve done it long enough,” she said. “I wouldn’t mind doing it a little longer, but it would be fine if someone else did it.”