Christina Platt: Don’t cast out ‘slow democracy’

Thursday, March 08, 2018
Don’t cast out ‘slow democracy’

I moved to Amherst in 1970 and raised two children — proud Amherst Regional High School alumni.

As a graduate student in regional planning, I interned in Amherst’s Planning Department, and later served in Town Meeting and on the Planning Board.

After giving a talk at Rotary Club to every influential man in town, I co-founded the Amherst Club.

When my youngest child left for college, I returned to my home state of California, and moved back to town 20 years later to be closer to my granddaughters.

As I eased back into local politics, friends warned me to avoid one side or the other of an issue, depending on who was taking which position. Gradually, I came to realize that several hard-fought battles had become rancorous, leaving many activists exhausted and furious.

So, when faced with the grave prospect of dismantling our entire form of governance, I carefully read the proposal myself and have decided to vote “no.” No matter how it’s justified, power vested in 13 vs. 240 people would severely undermine our ability to participate in the life of our town.

To those of you who may have taken this ability for granted, please read the proposed charter before you vote.

Instead of casting out our admittedly imperfect “slow democracy,” let’s recommit to meeting shared challenges.

Call me naive, but I have faith that working together with renewed focus and goodwill, tensions will ease, we will have fine new elementary schools — and Amherst will still be itself, not a city-called-a-town.

Christina Platt