Letter: Vote no on mayoral referendum
I am writing to support maintaining a form of town government that includes a professional town manager. While an imperfect analogy, as the town can not simply close up shop if things go poorly, let's consider Bennington as a business. The town has approximately 90 full-time employees, and a budget of approximately $13 million. This equates to a medium-sized company, and a complicated one at that; we're not a manufacturing company that only makes widgets, or a resort that exists only to entertain guests, there are buildings and roads to manage, records to keep, water and sewer infrastructure, a police department, etc.
Supporters of a strong mayor as outlined in the referendum are advocating handing the reins of this medium-sized, complicated business, with very little in the form of checks and balances for the duration of the term (whatever that may be), over to someone who we have no guarantee about, or perhaps even ability to judge, their ability to handle the day-to-day, month-to-month, year-to-year challenges in running such an organization. The reason advocates are supporting change is that they hope that it will make Bennington demonstrably "better," whatever that means to them, than it is today or will be next year, despite the fact that under the proposed mayoral system we are likely to have someone with far less experience in running a town, but with all of the same challenges and pressures we now face. The known risks in this case far outweigh any potential rewards, which is why I'll be voting "no" on the mayoral referendum. I encourage everyone else to do the same.
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