Marilyn Denny: Difficult to contact Town Meeting members

Saturday, September 16, 2017
Difficult to contact Town Meeting members

In respond to the guest column written by Jennifer Page in support of Town Meeting (“Town council wrong move for Amherst,” Sept. 1), I believe she underestimates the difficulty of communicating with Town Meeting which undermines good government.

Many years ago residents of Precinct 8 asked the town to implement a study recommending replacing septic systems with sewers to protect the town’s drinking water. I was active in trying to have the town support this and spent weeks attempting to contact members of Town Meeting, which was a thankless task. About one-third of them could not be reached, about another third had answering machines, but never returned my calls, and most of the members I managed to reach had no understanding of the issues.

Although the project was eventually supported by Town Meeting, this was attributable primarily to the efforts of my neighbors, not our precinct representatives. One of our precinct representatives criticized me for doing something that “might” encourage development in our area and she voted her “anti-development conscience.”

The Charter Commission is trying to make town government responsible and responsive. Ms. Page is endorsing a belief that more members would be less susceptible to political influence; but that ignores the fact that they are also often less responsive to the needs of their constituents.

In the case of the sewers in my precinct, Town Meeting did eventually vote in favor of public health, but the opposition was an anti-development sentiment.

I fear “individuals voting according to their values and beliefs,” not in opposition to “outside influence” but in opposition to commons sense and the needs of people they are characterized as representing.

Marilyn Denny