A 23-year-old recent college graduate, Jim Stewart had to ask where to get the papers to first file for a run at political office in 1982.
Stewart now knows where to find those papers. He just won’t be picking them up at Town Hall next year.
The Wilmington Town Moderator announced during last week’s Annual Town Meeting that it was his last time leading residents at the session after 25 years in the position, which followed eight years as a member of the Board of Selectmen.
“I was a pretty young guy when I started in town government,” Stewart told Patch. “It’s been a great experience for me. It would be good to see the next generation of folks get involved and pick up the process and run with it. That would be great. The people of the town have given me a lot of support, shown a lot of confidence in me, and I am very thankful for that.”
Stewart said there was nothing that prompted his decision to step down, other than feeling it was the right time.
During more than two decades as Town Moderator, Stewart said his most memorable meeting was the vote for the new high school, which he said was the highest attendance he has ever seen at a vote.
Overall, Stewart said he will also most remember the residents who knew how to utilize the Town Meeting process and ask good questions.
Stewart admitted that Town Meeting is not the most exciting day on the calendar for many residents, which is why he said he always attempted to bring some humor to the position and keep the discussion and debate focused whenever possible.
“I think the moderator is a really good position to be involved in town government with the people without it being an overwhelming time commitment,” said Stewart. “You’re very much involved. What I’ll miss is interaction with the folks on the town boards, the interaction with people who attend town meeting. I always view it as game day for me. I’ll probably miss that next year as well. The build up was always exciting.”
After being involved in Wilmington government for 33 years, Stewart said it will be strange when the 2015 Town Meeting rolls around.
“I want to thank the folks of town for their support and confidence,” said Stewart. “It’s been great and we will see what it’s like in the audience at Town Meeting next year.”