Letter: Support for mayor idea shows demand for change

To the Editor:

The proposal to change to a mayoral system in Bennington did not pass this time. The vote was 1,483 to 954. To those who supported the reform, I want to say thank you. To those who opposed it, I want to say please don't miss the lesson of this vote.

Thirty-seven percent of the voters wanted to change the town manager/select board form of government. They wanted a strong mayor, an active and vigorous leader who would take responsibility for the improvement of our town.

Now this was a pretty progressive idea, and the opponents of the reform scored some points in debate, particularly on the issue of the need for an override of the proposed veto, but given those challenges more than a third of all voters still wanted a mayor.

Some day I believe this idea will pass. Until then, our elected leaders and our appointed manager ought to understand that business as usual is no longer good enough. We need a new vision and new energy.

That will take courage and dedication, and a willingness to commit to addressing our biggest challenges, the first among them being our sense of self. We need to bring the community together. Stringing a few lights in trees isn't enough. We need a vigorous revival of our business climate, and for that we should be proactive. We need to be creative.

The lesson of March 6 is that things need to change, that the status quo is unacceptable, and that greater leadership is essential. We can be better than we are, and strong and effective government can make a difference.

Mike Bethel,



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