Katherine Appy and Ginny Hamilton: ‘Here’s to finding common ground’

Friday, September 25, 2020

As co-chairs of a local, all-volunteer organization that includes “robust and inclusive resident participation” among its seven priority issues, we were thrilled to see twice as many candidates for Planning Board as there were open seats.

And we were subsequently disheartened to see attacks in these pages on some of the volunteers appointed to these roles, most recently by way of Steve Bloom’s Sept. 18 letter to the editor (“Power play in Amherst”). Is it any wonder why capable, committed volunteers are so often reluctant to serve in important public roles? Mr. Bloom, thank you for this opportunity to correct the record.

Johanna Neumann was indeed a founding member of Amherst Forward, as Mr. Bloom claims, but none of the town councilors he mentioned in his letter have ever been members. From the beginning of Amherst Forward, we have not accepted donations from candidates or elected officials, expressly to avoid any hint of impropriety. In 2018, we campaigned for several town councilors (including councilors Ross, Schreiber and Hanneke) to help elect town officials who shared many of our priorities and who ran positive, issues-driven campaigns.

As to the claim of a “power play,” Amherst Forward did not advocate for Planning Board members. We’re happy to claim credit for our actual advocacy efforts because engaging local residents in local politics is our purpose, but that’s not the case this time.  

Perhaps we can all pause and allow for the possibility that people may have different ideas than yours yet come to them with integrity and competence. Amherst doesn’t have the time or luxury to continue fighting the same old battles year after year. Here’s to finding common ground — and to moving ahead together with positivity and purpose.

Katherine Appy
Ginny Hamilton

The authors are co-chairs of Amherst Forward, a local political action organization promoting smart growth, high-quality services, and good government.