Devan M. Atanian is rallying young voters to raise their voices at Town Meeting this May, and she plans to begin by leading a discussion at Bobby Byrne’s Restaurant & Pub on Tuesday, April 29, at 7 PM.
Ms. Atanian is a town ambassador for the Cape Cod Young Professionals (CCYP) Civic Engagement Committee, which is dedicated to involving young people in local government. Although she is not a Mashpee resident, she is familiar with the town and served as the president of the Mashpee Dog Park Committee.
“Once our current generation of volunteers is no longer able to do that [participate in town government], who is going to do it?” she said.
The upcoming discussion at Bobby Byrne’s, which will be attended by selectman John J. Cahalane and possibly a member of the Mashpee Finance Committee, will provide answers to any questions that residents may have concerning the Town Meeting warrant. The process of voting at Town Meeting can be intimidating for residents who have not previously attended, Ms. Atanian said, and the purpose of the discussion will be to “explain the warrant in layman’s terms” to help them understand how each act affects them.
“It’s all about comfort, trying to ease people into the concept [of Town Meeting] and get them comfortable with it,” she said.
The effort is a part of the Shape the Cape initiative by CCYP to create a more diverse workforce on the Cape and, as a result, healthier communities with increased civic engagement. Although the organization’s website defines “young people” as anyone ages 25 to 44, it does not exclude residents outside that age range from its programs.
In fact, some Cape residents who are currently involved with CCYP are completely outside the range.
“Different ages have different views, which allows for intelligent conversation about what’s going on,” Ms. Atanian said.
In the long term, she hopes that the committee can help build a sense of community among generations within each town. But in the meantime, she will simply focus on getting as many people as possible to attend Town Meeting.