Letter: Keep our present form of government in place
Some of my concerns regarding the mayor versus town manager debate are as follows:
As proposed, a mayor would have the ultimate and final say on any ordinance, bylaw change, etc., voted to be enacted by the new city or town council. This means a mayor could yield veto power with no recourse.
In my opinion, this veto power would result in council members not performing their duties solely with the good of the citizens in mind. Utmost in their decision making would need to be "will the mayor agree with this", thereby hampering their ideas on what may be in the best interest of the taxpayers. Absolute veto power seems to me to be almost a dictatorship.
The proponents of this veto power claim it could be changed when the proposal goes before the Vermont legislature. My feelings are, why would state legislators go against voters in Bennington who have voted for this arrangement in the first place.
With our present system, the select board spends many hours vetting, checking references, past job performance, etc. to select the right person for the job. That person must be qualified to do the job. To run for mayor, as I have read, a candidate's only qualification is that she or he be a registered voter in the town of Bennington, resulting in a popularity contest, disregarding specific qualifications for the job.
Regarding the above, would a mayor's thinking be along the lines of so many of our nationally elected officials, namely, "How will my stand on this issue affect my chances of re-election?" Proponents of a mayoral system like to point out that if the electorate is unhappy with a mayor's performance, he or she may be voted out at the time the office term is up.
By the same token, a town manager may be removed by the select board for cause with a 30-day notice, or without cause, with a 90-day notice, not having to wait for a one or two or three year term to expire.
These are some of my reasons to keep our present form of government in place.
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