Sigurd Nilsen: Amherst remains small college town

Tuesday, March 06, 2018
Amherst remains small college town

In a Feb. 9 guest column (“Town Meeting too often fails community”), former school committee chairwoman Katherine Appy claimed that Amherst has 40,000 voters.

Proponents of the charter need to fact-check their claims, as there are innumerable errors in their arguments. This is just one. Yes, the U.S. Census says that Amherst has 37,819 residents as of 2010. But, since 1950, the census has included on-campus college students in area population data. What this means for Amherst is that at least 20,000 residents who are counted in our population are undergraduate students living in dormitories on campus, who are only part-year residents.

The facts that charter proponents put forward are often misleading. Amherst’s actual year-round population is less than 20,000, which includes nearly 4,000 who are under the age of 18, and clearly not eligible to vote. This makes Amherst a small New England college town.

So let’s continue to govern Amherst as a town, because we are a town, not a city. We have not outgrown our year-round Select Board and Town Meeting form of government that has successfully managed Amherst for years. Sure we can improve Town Meeting, but we are a town and we don’t need a paid city council with concentrated, unchecked power.

I urge you to vote “no” on March 27.

Sigurd Nilsen


The writer is a Town Meeting member from Precinct 8 and a candidate for Jones Library trustee.