Steve Dunn: Town Meeting does not represent Amherst

Thursday, February 22, 2018
Town Meeting not representative

Please join me on March 27 in voting for the new town charter. This is the right plan at the right time for Amherst.

A while back, I served two terms on Town Meeting and witnessed how poorly it represents the whole town. Members don’t always have a complete grasp of the articles as they debate and vote. This is clear from the questions and comments in any half hour viewing on the town cable channel. Too often the members as a whole are so confused and befuddled by the rambling nature of the discussion that they find relief by sending articles back to committees for reconsideration.

Stepping off Town Meeting was difficult because I understood that serving is the only way to make meaningful contributions to town decisions, other than boards and committees.

As for Town Meeting members, they vote their conscience and self-interest and are not accountable to anyone else. My intention is not to disparage them. Indeed, we owe them gratitude for serving. Many have served for years.

Yet, in spite of best intentions by these 240 individuals, the town will be better served by the council-manager form of government. I will know who my district’s two councilors are, what positions they ran on and how to reach them. And I will know the same for the three townwide elected councilors. Thus, I will have direct input for five of the 13 councilors, which is vastly more democratic than the current “representational” system.

We deserve year-round, accountable government. There is absolutely no reason to believe that Amherst will vote in pro-development, big-money interests, as some have suggested. That’s just silly. This is Amherst.

I urge you also to ignore calls to fix Town Meeting. We need more than minor tweaking. We have here an opportunity for real change, one that took a great deal of effort to bring to the ballot box. Please, vote “yes” for this sensible change.

Steve Dunn