Letter: Town structure inhibits innovative thinking

To the Editor:

I am disappointed that the debate concerning revising the town charter to change to a mayoral governance structure has devolved into personal attacks on our current town leaders. From my point of view our current town manager is doing a credible job making sure that the streets are maintained and the Christmas lights are lit, and the hardworking, well-intentioned citizens on our select board are doing their best to oversee his work.

However, I don't believe that this is what the debate is about.

It is clearly NOT the role of the town manager to articulate a vision for our future, and it is clearly beyond the capacity of our part-time select board to reach a consensus on any bold initiatives that will substantially improve the life of our town.

Our current "board and manager" structure works well to maintain the status quo, but it inherently discourages innovative thinking, risk taking and change, and precludes the emergence of any real leadership to fight for this town.

We need a political structure where we can have one loud voice leading the charge to turn around our local economy. Why should Bennington be left behind, even after the rest of Vermont and New England have recovered from the Great Recession?

Who is working the political machines in Montpelier and Washington to bring in state and federal funding? Why do we no longer hear talk of completing the southern leg of the bypass, or the possibility of passenger rail service? Why don't we hear about a new company moving to town, or replacing the abandoned Middle School with a youth center and a hockey rink?

To be clear, a YES vote will not bring about an immediate change in our governance — but it will document citizens' sentiment for charter reform.

I am not content with our current system, and I will vote YES on Town Meeting Day.

Ned Perkins,



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