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34 consider running for Town Council

A total of 34 Amherst residents have taken out nomination papers for the new 13-member Town Council. Fifteen of them have collected the signatures they need to put their names on the ballot for the Sept. 4 preliminary election and filed them with the town clerk. The others have until this coming Friday, June 29, at 5 p.m. to file their signatures. Voters will get a chance to meet the candidates for the 10 district councilor seats at a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters and scheduled for Aug. 21. Candidates for the three at-large seats will meet …

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Limits to campaign donations: good idea but bad timing

Imposing a limit on contributions to candidates is an appealing idea. We don’t want our new Town Council to be as corrupted by money as the U.S. Congress is. But I think the Select Board should heed the advice of the Town’s attorneys and reject calls for a special Town Meeting to establish limits on donations before the Town Council is seated. Meg Gage served on the Charter Commission with me and opposed the recommendations that were overwhelmingly approved by voters on March 27. She is organizing a petition drive to call a special Town Meeting to limit individual contributions …

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Two bipartisan charter events coming up

In the next 10 days, there will be two public events at which both sides of the charter campaign can come together and talk about the future of our town. Each event has been organized by two members of the Charter Commission, on opposite sides, in a spirit of bipartisanship. Gerry Weiss and I have been involved in planning a community dialogue at the Jones Library next Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. And on June 12, Meg Gage and Tom Fricke will lead a discussion of the fine points of the new charter at 7 p.m. in the Bangs Community Center. …

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Should boards restrict public comment?

This guest post was written by Rick Hood, who was a member of the Amherst School Committee from 2010 to 2016 and chair of the Regional School Committee from 2010 to 2012. In a town where only the H is silent, what is “acceptable” public comment? An issue that came up a few times when I was on the School Committee was how to handle critical public comment directed at people, as opposed to policy, program or process. The issue came up again at the May 22 meeting of the Regional School Committee, where many had come to comment on  …

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The voters have spoken. Did Town Meeting hear them?

This guest post was written by Johanna Neumann, chair of Amherst for All. This coming Monday, in a special session of Town Meeting, members will vote on what should be a formality in the wake of last month’s resounding charter approval. The vote will be on  asking the state for permission to conduct Town Council elections this year (and only this year) at the same time as the state primary and general elections. This should be a non-controversial aspect of the charter. It is required under our new home rule charter, and is one of many details reviewed and approved …

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15 one-sentence reasons to vote ‘Yes’

The Town Council will be better able to deliberate on issues, get public comment, and seek out additional information than Town Meeting can. The Town Council will know what residents want because campaigns on the issues will measure support for the positions candidates take. Councilors will be informed about issues; Town Meeting has admitted that members haven’t understood issues before voting on them. Councilors will know that their votes represent Amherst’s residents, not just themselves. Residents won’t have to be a part of the legislative body to have a meaningful voice in the decisions that affect them. The Town Council …