Letter: Mayor proposal concerning for several reasons
On 6 March, we the voters of Bennington will be asked to vote on an article 2, section 103-407, Mayoral form of government. As I read through the article as it appears on the ballot there are a number of things that cause me concern. First, in subsection ( c ) The mayor shall have the power to make or break a tie, and shall have the power to veto any action of the Selectboard. My concern is, do we really want to give absolute power to one individual who can govern over the town of Bennington without any checks or balances? If so, why do we need a selectboard to develop policy only to have the mayor veto any policy that they may come up with as it pertains to the greater good of the people of Bennington.
To me this is a dangerous road to follow.
Second, mayoral form of government vs town manager system of governance. A town manager is hired by the selectboard and serves at the pleasure of the board. If determined by the Board that he is not performing his duties as required, he can be terminated. In order to carry out his duties he must have excellent managerial skills to oversee the day to day operations of the town staff. He must be a skilled negotiator in order to come to an agreeable contract with the town's employee unions. He must have accounting skills to oversee the preparation of the town budget to present to the selectboard and to the voters of Bennington. These are only some of the skills that the Board should consider before hiring a town manager. But more importantly they should look at his prior experience to determine if he has the proven skills to be the town manager.
On the other side, a mayor will be elected for an unspecified term. In Vermont most mayors terms are two or three years. He will serve until his term is up when the voters will decide whether he deserves to be re-elected or should he be replaced by another candidate for mayor. Section (b) states that the mayor shall be responsible for the management of the administrative affairs of the town in the same manner as a town manager. How will the voters know if a candidate for mayor has the experience to fulfill his duties as outlined in the charter before casting their vote?
My final concern is that changing to a mayoral form of government will become political. The person elected may not be the best candidate but may have the best party support, best financing, or run the best campaign. Or it would just be a popularity contest.
I ask the voters to really think through what is proposed in Article 2 on the March 6th ballot. Do you really believe that changing our current form of government to a Mayoral form is best for the future of Bennington. If you believe as I do that it is not, please join me in voting NO on Article 2, section 103-407.
Joseph L. Krawczyk
Former Select Board Member
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