by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 5/1997
In the six years I’ve lived in Foxboro, last week was the first time I’ve attended a town meeting. My main reason for attending was my great interest in seeing question six, the senior center funding issue, approved. But as I sat and watched people debate various topics and budget issues, I kept looking around the crowded auditorium and saw the same things on everyone’s faces: Pride. Concern. Great interest. Even passion.
Yes, passion, because it was obvious that everyone who attended that town meeting was passionate about the issues and their effects on our town. Whether it was Lorraine Garland’s heartwarming and on-target speech about the need for the senior center, Chief Boswell’s and Al Truaxe’s speeches about fire equipment, or any of the many people who stood up to speak about an issue, it was clear that they were all passionate about the subjects of which they spoke.
I felt especially touched by the incredible surge of emotion generated by the senior center issue. With the auditorium packed with seniors and friends of seniors, you could feel the electric anticipation as question six was about to be discussed. The passion exhibited by the former director of COA, and then by Lorraine Garland as they both explained the need for a senior center, was riveting. When the vote was called, all those hands shot up in the air as if to say, “Listen to us! We’ve waited long enough!”
Seeing people tearfully embrace after the overwhelmingly favorable vote, seeing Gerry Rodman shaking hands and saying, “Good vote, good vote!” brought a lump in my throat. It was like a great victory after a presidential election!
Equally engrossing was the passion of the other speakers on various issues. I was most impressed with the people who just stood up to speak their mind. Most people were very articulate and it was obvious they were there because they cared so much about the town and the issues at hand. You could hear the voice of the man speaking about the schools crack with emotion as he lamented a lack of text books and proper maintenance. As his voice filled the room, you could feel his pain. He wasn’t speaking just to speak. He spoke to us because he cared. He wanted to change what was wrong.
At the risk of being a little philosophical, our government is defined to be by and for the people, and it works best when the people participate. It works best when people get off the couch and go out and vote, and when they write a letter to the editor or call their local leaders and say that something doesn’t work. It works best when people help make the laws rather than passively accept what might happen. It works better when people really care.
I was really proud to be at that meeting the other night. I was proud to live in this town and proud to be part of this community family. Like all families, we have our problems and we don’t always get along with each other, but we really do care about each other’s well being and the health of the family unit. That’s what makes Foxboro great.