At Wednesday night's annual town meeting, Arrowsic residents voted overwhelmingly to pass a resolution that urges the president and Congress to "act swiftly and decisively to immediately stop all funding for the war in Iraq, end the occupation of Iraq, and bring all U.S. troops safely home." The vote was 71 to 17.
The 20 minutes of discussion that preceded the vote turned not on whether the war should continue but on whether a town meeting is the appropriate venue for such a discussion.
Mercer Blanchard, who made a motion to pass over the article, summed up the view of several when he said:
"Regardless of how you feel about the war, this is not the place to address the issue."
His motion to pass over the article failed.
Brian Carlton said he felt there were more important issues to take care of during town meeting.
"The town stuff we vote on affects us directly," he said. "That should be more important."
But Wendy Briggs said the war affects the town considerably.
"The war does affect us," she said. "It affects our schools, our families."
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Paul Schlein, spokesman for the group that organized the petition effort to put the article on the warrant, said about 300 municipalities in the country have passed similar bills.
"This is not about politics or parties," he said. "It's about people dying. This country has spent $450 billion on this war. That's $450 billion that wasn't spent here. Federal funding of programs that help our kids has suffered. After four years and $450 billion, the war has to stop."
John Mclaughlin compared the discussion to the colonial uprising.
"We are the Boston Tea Party," he said. "We are speaking out against a terrible war."
David Weiss said he was voting for the article because the war was "immoral, illegal and ill-conceived."
In other business, voters rejected an article that would have added lighting restrictions to the zoning ordinance. The new restrictions would have helped mitigate "light pollution" but some in the audience expressed concern the town was getting too restrictive. The article was defeated by a vote of 37-40.
On the advice of selectmen, voters also rejected an article that would have paid Bath $5,000 for structural fire coverage. Selectman Larry Wilson said the Arrowsic Fire Department is now at a strength to be a full-fledged participant in mutual aid.
Voters did approve a school budget of $548,623, authorized $32,523 in town official salaries and $14,000 to area organizations.
Elected to another term as selectman was Larry Wilson, while Frances Smith Tolan was elected to another term on the School Committee. Heather Baker was elected to another year as town clerk and Ray Paradis and Elizabeth Rollins were elected treasurer and tax collector, respectively.
Hoping to start a new tradition, selectmen presented Howard Sullivan, 92, a former selectman, with the keys to the town during a short ceremony before the meeting.
Copyright 2007 Brunswick Times Record