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Gabor Lukacs: Says council of 13 will lead to partisanship


Thursday, July 13, 2017

In the column “Possibility of inclusive government” (June 30), Ted Parker outlines how he believes a council of 13 will be better able to represent the interests of all, more than what he calls an entitled and privileged Town Meeting of 240 would.

Town Meeting almost always gets to make decisions on yes-no type questions most of which came from Town Hall: “Do you want to pass the budget we came up with?” or “Do you want the school plan we would like to see happen?” Yes or no? Actually, this exclusively binary option is true in most questions that we will vote on, except voting on people themselves. There, the case may be “Do you want ‘A’ or ‘B’ or ‘C’ or ‘D’?” Or, possibly, “Do you want ‘A’?”

From local and national experience, we know that independents — people not represented by a larger group — have much less of a chance to be elected.

What I see happening with a 13-member council is what happened with the Charter Commission: Instead of 13 or more independent people running for council, an organization will push a group of candidates, and perhaps another organization will push another group of candidates. The question may be framed: “Do you want improvements in town? Yes or no?” The decision-making of a 13-member council can be quicker and simpler, especially if they already mostly agree on the desired outcome. They will do the bidding of not 13 independent members, but only one or two organizations (see the Charter Commission).

So, as Mr. Parker writes, “Let us embrace a new structure, open to the possibility of an inclusive and equitable government that will serve us all.”

Unfortunately, the fine print might read, “but let’s define what ‘us’ means in this statement later.” Only after we have changed the structure of the government will we know whose interests this inclusive and equitable government will represent.

Gabor Lukacs

Amherst