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Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Johnson Village Meeting Postponed After High Turnout Exceeds Room Capacity

The exterior of the Johnson Municipal Building.
Amy Kolb Noyes
The meeting room at the Johnson Municipal Building was too small to hold all the people who wanted to attend the annual village meeting last week.

Bucking the trend of low voter turnout, the village of Johnson’s annual meeting had to be recessed last week because the number of people in attendance exceeded the meeting room’s capacity.Village President Eric Osgood says the municipal building’s meeting room can accommodate 49 people, according to the fire code, and this is the first time the room has proven too small.

"Typically that’s where we always have it," says Osgood. "There’s usually not a huge number of people. There have been years when there was more people sitting at the table, officials, than there were out in the audience."

Osgood explains what put them over the top at the original April 3 meeting was the turnout of town of Johnson residents who live outside the village, but still wanted to be at the meeting.

Two signs hang in the Johnson Municipal building, one saying "Notice maximum capacity 49 persons" and one saying "official polling place."
Credit Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR
While the voting booths remained open for the election of village officers on April 3, the floor portion of Johnson's annual village meeting that day was recessed due to the number of participants exceeding the meeting room's maximum capacity.

"We had 44 voters and then certain officials that were there would have put us right at 49, and then a number of people who were non-voters," Osgood explained. "We first asked if any of the non-voters would voluntarily leave, and none of them got up and moved."

Among other questions, village voters were to consider whether to participate in a study of merging the village and town governments in Johnson. Town voters approved that study last month.

The question will be taken up by village voters when the meeting reconvenes next month in the much larger elementary school auditorium. While the initial plan was to reconvene the meeting next week, Osgood says they need more time to properly warn it.

Amy is an award winning journalist who has worked in print and radio in Vermont since 1991. Her first job in professional radio was at WVMX in Stowe, where she worked as News Director and co-host of The Morning Show. She was a VPR contributor from 2006 to 2020.
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