Board should reconsider charter commission appointments

| Letter to the editor from Laura Jane Sturgis |

I would like to address the Board of Selectmen’s recent selection of people to work on our town charter and what it suggests about our town’s leadership. 

You had a couple of residents who applied to the board for appointment to the charter commission who were very adept to the task at hand.  They had experience in the correct way to write charters and they understand the need to include important articles of governance that residents have expressed a desire for – such as stricter policies regarding term limits on representation on the Board of Selectmen.  Those experienced individuals were not appointed.

It is not my intention to denigrate the accomplishments of those that have been named to the commission panel, as they have served the town with good intentions and accomplished some good things.  I am not usually a subscriber to conspiracy theories, but it looked very much as if the die was cast and it had already been decided before the board meeting that appointees would be chosen who would be against such things as term limits on holding office.  The Board of Selectmen should not be a lifetime position. 

There are many folks in town who feel that most of these appointees want to have a pretty tight control over what goes on here and what is covered in the new town charter.  Even when I was on the Board of Selectmen, sometimes it felt like there was an undertone of controlling decisions among a few and that others of us were not consulted.  The board’s appointees to the charter commission have backed each other for years, and I question the wisdom of having relatives and close friends who seem to agree on many of the issues that have come up in our town. 

The last couple of years have seen many controversies and much disruption in town, including the fiasco of the library’s budget, leading to us not having library services available to us for months and the town losing two long-time and well-respected library employees.  We have had trouble with two town managers, we have lost employees in the fire department, our Town Planner and our Parks and Rec Director have moved on…  To me, that suggests something is not right in our leadership.

I know that I am not alone in expressing my concern about these charter appointments.  For the sake of the town which we all love, please reconsider your appointments and put people on the charter who have experience in writing them and can be trusted to do what is best for our future governance.

Jane Sturgis

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