Political Capital – Stowe, VT

In the town of Stowe, the political structure consists of various boards and commissions.  Power is held by the Selectboard, which is made up of 5 officials appointed by popular vote. The Selectboard is responsible for appointing the members of the other boards & commissions, which include: Development Review Board, Planning Commission, Conservation Commission, Recreation Commission, Historic Preservation Commission, Cemetery Commission, Listers (Land Appraisal), Library Board, Electric Commission, Town Meeting Task Force. The Selectboards’ responsibilities include: “enacting ordinances, adopting policies to provide guidance in the administration of local government, authorizing the expenditure of all town money, approving the general fund budget for consideration by the voters at Town Meeting and setting the tax rate, serve as water and sewer commissioners, appoint members of boards and commissions, appoint the town manager and lay out, reclassify, and open local highways for public travel.” The majority of the town boards and commissions serve the overarching function of conservation & development control of Stowe’s unique natural capital, which has shaped both it’s cultural & social capitals. The boards & commissions work together with community based organizations such as the Stowe Land Trust and Stowe Vibrancy, in order to promote and ensure Stowe is conserved for future generations.

stowe-select-board

Stowe Selectboard Members

There has been a trend in the aggregate American political system that is consistent with and negatively affects Political Capital in Stowe. According to Green & Haines, “The percentage of Americans attending a public meeting about town or school affairs has declined 35% since the early 1970s.” Declining voter participation does not bode well for a democratic system that relies on its representatives responding to the interests of the majority if only a wealthy and politically active minority is voting. For this reason the Stowe selectboard created a Town Meeting Task Force, which was charged with the responsibility of determining why voter participation at the annual town meeting has declined, and what they can do to remedy it.

Citations:

Green, G. P., & Haines, A. (2012). Asset building & community development. Los Angeles, Calif.: SAGE.

Select Board Description. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2016, from http://www.townofstowevt.org/index.asp?SEC=6930C9C6-2A65-4999-B8F8-5830D5B3BB1F&Type=B_BASIC

Description. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2016, from https://www.stowelandtrust.org/

About. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2016, from http://www.stowevibrancy.com/about.html