Government Spotlight

Comparing the draft charter with citizen input

|Debra Smith & Noreen Williams|

In the early weeks of the Charter Commission’s work, they invited community input on key areas through a survey. The number of community members who responded to the survey (373) ensured that the results were statistically significant. What does that mean?

Statistical significance is a measure of whether your research findings are meaningful. More specifically, it’s whether your data closely matches what you would expect to find in an entire population, or pretty close to it. (A margin of error is built in to the calculation to determine significance). So in short, if you had twice as many people respond? Same. Ten times as many? Same. If every New Gloucester resident responded to the survey, you’d get basically the same results.

The Commission includes members with diverse views and has worked through consensus to develop their draft. The survey results are truly reflective of the views of the entire community, but the Commission’s draft departs from the views of New Gloucester citizens in some significant areas. The following table summarizes what community members said they want, and what is included in the draft.   

Many people who completed the survey provided comments, most of which pertained to the questions asked. However, there were two areas not addressed in the questions that elicited a number of open-ended comments:

• Limiting the number of family members to one on any board or committee. (Seven boards and committees currently include two or more immediate family members.)
For example:

  • A committee should not have more than one family member
  • I believe family members should not be on the same committee or vote on each other’s motions
  • Avoid relatives serving on boards

(The draft prohibits any board or committee from having a majority comprised of family members.)

The need for better communication from and with the Town, and ways to participate, such as:

  • I need more information to form an opinion.
  • I’d like a website with info on all the things we need to spend money on…
  • In-person meetings are inconvenient. Zoom meetings enable me to attend.
  • Need more on-line opportunities to inform residents.
  • There should be ways for citizens to participate, speak, listen… from home or in person.

(The draft includes a provision for “citizen engagement.”)

Learn more and share your feedback.

The Charter Commission invites your feedback on the draft charter, which you can read here.

• Participate in their public hearing on May 9, 7 PM at the Meeting House, 389 Intervale Road (next to the Town Hall). You can also watch via Live Streams on the town web site.

• Email comments directly to the Commission at