Letter: Mayor proposal is wrong for Bennington

To the Editor:

Over the last year, the Bennington Charter Committee has undertaken a comprehensive review of the town's charter and is making solid, important recommendations for us to discuss and consider this spring. In the meantime, but without regard to the Charter review, an article to replace our Select Board/town manager structure with a strong mayor has been placed by petition on the March 6 ballot.

The Select Board hosted two well-attended community discussions so that citizens could consider the pros and cons of the strong mayor proposal before the Town Meeting vote. Two themes emerged from the conversation:

The first had to do with citizen engagement. Which form of government is more likely to stimulate and make steady use of an inclusive range of citizen input — a Select Board augmented by an experienced town manager or a strong mayor? Which form of government is best equipped to transform citizen inputs into progress that is widely felt and supported?

The second had to do with management. Which form of government is more likely to provide us with the highest quality of management, measured both by effectiveness and efficiency? Are the qualities needed to win an election the same as the qualities needed to administer a modern town? Can a town our size guarantee a steady stream of mayoralty candidates with the requisite technical and management skills to effectively oversee and support 91 employees in 14 departments and a $13 million budget?

I believe that thoughtful examinations of these questions will lead most of us to vote "no" on Article 2 on March 6.

Then I hope we will come together in the spring to consider adopting some of the recommendations of the Charter Committee, especially those focused on extending and strengthening the Select Board's capacity to engage and lead our community.

Susan P. Borden,



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