Many voices saying ‘yes’: Part 1

This is the first of three posts that recall memorable quotations from supporters of Amherst’s new charter. Click on the names to read the full statements.

“We’ll be voting ‘yes’ on the adoption of the charter on March 27, because we believe accountability is one of the most important issues driving this vote.” (Ellen Story, John Olver and Nancy Eddy)

“Residents don’t know the political priorities of their Town Meeting members. Town Meeting members don’t know the political priorities of the electorate.” (Alisa Brewer)

When I had occasion to attend Town Meeting, I was discouraged to see how ineffective it was. There were complicated issues to discuss, and members didn’t seem to have read the materials but rather mostly commented on what other people said.” (Kate Atkinson)

Opponents of the charter proposal are throwing all kinds of spaghetti at the wall, to see if some wiggly argument will stick and create enough uncertainty for voters to say maybe it’s safer to stay with what we’ve got.” (Andy Churchill)

“I am confident that the proposed 13-member council would be able to work in an environment of trust; that isn’t the case now in Town Meeting.” (Connie Kruger)

I want a legislature that will take responsibility for the good, the bad, and the ugly – not just the easy stuff. I want a legislature that will own its decisions and responsibly review by laws that don’t seem to be working. I want some tough love.” (Stephen Schreiber)

There is no check on Town Meeting. The Select Board or Town Manager cannot veto Town Meeting actions. And, there is no recourse at the ballot box for residents when Town Meeting members face no competition for re-election.” (Mandi Jo Hanneke)

“The cost to our town of our legislative body’s failure to make informed decisions has been grave. We need a form of government that does more than scratch the surface of major questions facing our town.” (Katherine Appy)

Town Meeting’s members are largely invisible. Many members – including me – have never had to compete for their seats, because in many precincts there are not enough, or just barely enough, candidates.” (Kay Moran)

“TM feels like a much less cooperative place than it did when I signed on around about 2001. We’ve seen in the past eight days its appetite for confrontation, and its need to assert its dominion over all other processes in town. It’s going in the wrong direction.” (Richard Morse)

For those voters who are undecided about the charter, these tactics may convince them that the ‘no’ campaign doesn’t deserve to win this vote. Even if you think some of their more rational arguments make sense, a ‘no’ vote represents an endorsement of the debasement of our political dialogue.” (Nick Grabbe)

“A new Town Council would be more responsive, nimble and proactive than our current form of government and is a huge step in the right direction to keeping Amherst on the list of the best places to live.” (Ellen Brout Lindsey)

“Amherst’s population is now six times larger than what it was in 1938 and the world has only grown more complex. Our town has outgrown occasional government.” (Andy Steinberg)

“While Town Meeting members are eagerly participating in democracy camp twice a year, the rest of us are wondering what in the heck is going on in our town.  It’s a great town, but we have some big issues to address – now. ” (Bennett Hazlip)

“So why the alarmist view that everything I love is at risk? A rational debate about the benefits and drawbacks of a Council-Manager system, versus the benefits and drawbacks of the Representative Town Meeting system we have now, is possible without the scare tactics.” (Mandi Jo Hanneke)

Councils are like email. Town Meetings are like regular mail.” (Franklin administrator Jeff Nutting)

“We have a weird hybrid model that fails to deliver on the democratic promise of the original institution of a truly open, participatory Town Meeting — while also lacking the crucial mechanisms of accountability that are the hallmarks of true representative institutions.” (Elizabeth Markovits)

“There were only nine candidates for the eight available seats (in my precinct). After significant effort to research the candidates, the thought occurred to me, ‘Why am I bothering? My vote doesn’t matter anyway.’” (Heather Sheldon)

It’s not surprising that they are trying to convince you to vote ‘no.’ Town Meeting members have a personal stake in the outcome. They want to protect their privileged status as members of the elite group of super-voters.” (Nick Grabbe)

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