The voters of Harvard made two consequential decisions this week, choosing to go forward with the most expensive building project in town history and adopting a town charter designed to strengthen the executive powers of town government and increase its accountability. Both were accomplished without the rancor of a divisive debate, but after a reasoned discussion that thoroughly explored the strengths and weaknesses of each initiative.
Most encouraging has been the emergence of fresh leadership, especially among advocates for the new school, which included members of key town boards and the Yes to HES committee. They were unflagging in their advocacy for the school project, and their success in getting out the vote for Town Meeting and Election was impressive. One could sense a passing of the torch to a new generation, one confident in the future of their town and ready to take on the unprecedented financial challenges that await This new cohort, so much in evidence at Town Meeting, will now have to redirect its impressive energy to the more mundane work of making sure Harvard is a place where all residents, young and old, can get the services they need. For Harvard to become the “stronger and more diverse community” to which the charter aspires, there is much work to be done.
As the town opens a new chapter in its nearly 300-year-old saga as a free and independent direct democracy, Harvard will need to count on newcomers and old-timers alike to step up, volunteer, and refuse to take no for an answer