Town Meeting attendance isn’t representative of Concord’s diversity 

April 13, 2024

Concord is justly proud of our role in helping create a particularly American form of representative democracy, except as the town has grown larger and increasingly diverse our local governance has become substantially less representative and less democratic. Article 26 (and associated Articles 27, 28, and 29) seeks to create a study committee to propose how Concord can best return to our roots as a more representative democracy.  

If you compare attendance at town meetings with the Concord 2020 census, Town Meeting attendees are considerably older and whiter than citizens of the town as a whole. Our governance structure is at odds with our values. This appears to be even more true of members of the Select Board, School Committee, and various boards and committees that regularly make decisions that greatly impact the quality of life and cost of living in Concord.  

Perhaps we could task the Town Meeting Study Committee to broadly recommend appropriate approaches for a town of 18,000 people to implement representative democracy in the 21st century. Perhaps Andrea Foncerrada of Concord’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commission could advise the town’s moderator how to ensure that the nine-person study committee itself is representative of the diversity in Concord today.  

Concord has radically changed its governance structure a half dozen times since its founding in 1636. Perhaps it’s time to do it again, making maximum use of 21st century technology, and with recognition of the realities of 21st-century Concord life. People with jobs, childcare or eldercare responsibilities, or just busy lives, still have rights to be part of our decision-making process as citizens of Concord. No taxation without representation still applies. 

Jim Sherblom 

Park Lane