Audrey Child: Amherst needs alternative to Town Meeting

Friday, November 25, 2016
Town Meeting not representative

The decision by our “representative” Town Meeting to defeat the school building proposal is a perfect example of how unrepresentative TM is.

How many parents of young children who would benefit from free preschool are TM members? How many of all those teachers that find the present schools make it so difficult to teach effectively are TM members? How many low-income parents of students the new plan is designed to give equality to are TM members?

Town Meeting is made up of people with the leisure time to spend up to 10 weeknights attending in both spring and fall. We have a lot of bright retired people in Amherst, but how many are experts in these fields?

Defeating the plan surely helped parents with complicated driving schedules but why were they unwilling to look at offered solutions to some of the perceived problems, like pollution from buses? Why were they unwilling to take seriously the professional reply to the appeal for remodeling? Did they not follow the extensive coverage of meetings to understand the issues raised?

Town Meeting is made up of people with the time to take on town governance, but when it disregards the vote of a truly representative body— the voters of Amherst — I have to question the time, money, and energy that goes into keeping it running. Amherst prides itself on hiring the best staff possible. Why do we tie their hands, and the hands of professional board members? These kind of decisions need to be made by dedicated professionals who we value for their expertise.

This vote is the best example yet for finding another alternative to Town Meeting.

Audrey Child