Letter: Mayor proposal fails on several counts
I oppose ballot Article 2 (mayor) and will vote NO. In full disclosure, I served on the Charter Review Committee and the Bennington Select Board.
Many opponents have already pointed out that Article 2 gives far too much power to a mayor who may lack technical expertise, in-depth management and/or leadership experience.
Read part d in Article 2: the mayor "shall take responsibility for implementing the policies of the Selectboard." The mayor can veto any Selectboard action, so how is he or she responsible for implementing Selectboard policies?
Part d also says the mayor will be " leading the town toward greater prosperity and a healthy economy, and a better life for all its residents." That's just a throw-away line, pure fluff, and unproven.
There are important operational and administrative moving parts that this ballot fails to address, such as: Length of mayor's term? Compensation? Nonpartisan or representing a political party? Bennington resident for how long before running? Hiring an administrative officer (an additional salary) to oversee the technical, organizational, and management activities that a mayoral candidate may not know how or have the time to do? It's short-sighted and irresponsible to leave all that to "next year."
Finally, supporters of Article 2 say they want "accountability." Business leaders and organization managers make decisions and are accountable every single day, even if we don't notice it. They can be fired at any time. Yet supporters of Article 2 want a mayor who will be accountable only once, at the end of his or her term when he or she is up for re-election. In an economy with significant economic challenges, it's counterproductive to elect someone who will be held to account only at the end of a 2- or 3-year term.
Please vote NO on Article 2 on or before March 6.
Michael A. Keane,
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.