Sarah Marshall: Responds to Amherst charter opponents’ concerns

  • mactrunk

Tuesday, January 09, 2018
Responds to charter opponents’ concerns

I moved to Amherst more than six years ago and am following the debates on Facebook, in blogs, and in the Gazette among four groups about the merits of the current vs. proposed forms of town government (“Charter jockeying in full swing,” Jan. 6).

I will not address all the reasons why I support the Charter Commission’s proposal, but want to comment on some of the objections and concerns raised by opponents of the charter. First, there are dire warnings about the influence of “Big Money.” However, the debates developing on Facebook (a free platform available to anyone over the age of 13), the coverage of the proposed charter in this newspaper, and the outpourings of volunteer effort suggest that funding is not necessary to mount a vigorous campaign for a council seat.

Second, opponents claim that the new charter will reduce democracy and eliminate checks and balances. I very much doubt that the commonwealth’s attorney general would have approved a proposed charter that kills our democratic process. The apocalyptic tone of opponents’ comments is entirely unwarranted by the choice before us.

Third, some of the opposition seems to be extraordinarily pessimistic about the ability of Amherst voters to discover the backgrounds, experience, records of service and policy preferences of candidates for town council seats, should we adopt the charter.

In contrast, I envision lengthy, robust debates that will give anyone who cares to follow them ample basis for a choice — certainly, more information than we have now when voting for Town Meeting members.

Sarah Marshall