Town Moderator Rob Peterson Says Town Meeting Is Broken; Won’t Seek Re-Election So He Can Help Fix It From The Outside

WILMINGTON, MA — At the end of this year’s 6.5-hour Wilmington Annual Town Meeting, Town Moderator Rob Peterson surprised the crowd with his announcement that he will not be running for re-election in 2021.

“I’ve had the interesting and distinct pleasure of serving as moderator here since 2015. I’ve overseen 6 Annual Town Meetings and 2 Special Town Meetings,” began Peterson. “I’ve seen the best in people and, unfortunately, I’ve seen the worse. I’ve seen our community come together and our community be divided. I’ve seen a lot. It’s been a process every step of the way.”

“Regardless of how great the ideals of an Open Town Meeting are, I still believe we have to do better. I think this is broken,” continued Peterson. “I won’t be seeking re-election as Moderator next year. I’ll have this seat until [April] 2021 in case any Special Town Meetings comes up.”

Without getting into specifics, Peterson also called for reforms needed to improve Town Meeting that he hopes to push for once out of office.

“That being said, my interest in Town Meeting and Town Government hasn’t waned a bit. Quite the contrary, it’s intensified. I’ve been thinking about this for the past six moths, and I think some changes we need here at Town Meeting and across the town I can’t accomplish by holding on to this seat. I wouldn’t be able to properly advocate for them if I had this elected position,” explained Peterson. 

“I’ll continue to serve as Moderator through next year’s Town Election, and I’m not saying I won’t serve the town in one way or another, I can assure you I’ll be around and I can overly assure you that I’m gong to make these meetings look a lot different in the future, whether that’s by petitioning the Selectmen or by getting it done myself with a group of citizens,” said Peterson. “I really think some things need to change. I’ve been trying to do it from here, but I don’t really think this is the avenue for me to drive those changes home any more.”

“If some unfortunate soul wants to run for this position then God Bless You,” joked Peterson. “But I’ll be here to help whoever it is along the way to make some reforms here so we’re not sitting talking about hundreds of millions of dollars with a bare minimum of people here. Like it or not, we need to get more people here. Continually failing isn’t going to do it.”

Peterson received a round of applause from the audience, which totaled 93 voters at the end of the 6.5-hour meeting. Wilmington has 17,424 registered voters.

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