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Singer/My Turn: Critical independence for our future

This year’s Greenfield town councilor election is very important for our city. I am supporting the incumbents Mark Wisnewski for At Large, Steve Ronhave for Precinct 4, Hillary Hoffman for Precinct 6, Al Siano for Precinct 2 and my colleague and candidate Robert Wainstein for Precinct 5. Here is why:

The council is the elected legislative body of our local government. Its primary duties are to legislate zoning bylaws and ordinances, monitor spending by the mayor, approve contracts by the mayor, and review appointments by the mayor to our boards. The council also stands as the check and balance to the strong-mayor form of government that was created by the new charter.

The mayor, as provided for in the charter, has led the way in economic development and spending, and has needed the council to approve many of his initiatives. I have witnessed the current council as it seriously and thoroughly reviews all of his requests, pondering the long-term cause and effect of each initiative with the goal of voting on each measure in order to provide the deepest and broadest impact for the community. It has been the mission of this council to understand and implement all of its duties within the powers outlined under our charter as mayor “go getter” and council “what are the long-term impacts.”

This council has acted as an independent political body following policies that ensure on the one hand support for many of the mayor’s economic development ideas, which have important present value, and on the other hand ensuring that we take in to consideration how those ideas when implemented will protect or strengthen the enduring and long-term economic and strategic goals of the community as a whole.

By way of two examples, at the request of the mayor, new zoning ordinances have been passed to support solar energy in our community (short-term goal), yet those same ordinances protect our farm land from being overrun with panels because of tax incentives that give short-term benefits for the developer (long-term goal). Another, with the support of the mayor a new wetlands ordinance was presented to the council, that just passed, provides more flexibility to the Conservation Commission in allowing development under certain circumstances (short-term goal), but includes measures to insure that the protection of our environment and ecosystem are still an important priority (long-term goal).

I can cite other examples, but my point is this: The mayor is supporting all of the challenger councilor candidates. The theme of the challengers is that the council does not listen, does not fairly and evenly represent the community and has an agenda that is anti­development, all of which obstructs or discourages developers from choosing Greenfield. While I hear this perspective, I believe it to be false.

What has happened, in fact, is that the council has taken its role as the protector of our future resources seriously, and while supporting the mayor’s initiatives (all of the incumbents in the debate praised the mayor), the council, through thoughtful and careful analysis of long-term impacts, has done what it is supposed to do: make sure long-term goals and effects are provided equal if not primary weight in our decisions.

The balance that exists now is delicate and, as we hear over and over, unprecedented. If the voters elect council members who view the world as a strong mayor does, meaning in the present tense, with less concern for the overall future impact, then we may have a council and city government which will be regrettably out of balance.

This is a very important election. Our future is at stake here. Please get out and vote at the Grange on June 10. I am supporting the incumbents Mark Wisnewski for At Large, Steve Ronhave for Precinct 4, Hillary Hoffman for Precinct 6, Al Siano for Precinct 2 and my colleague and candidate Robert Wainstein for Precinct 5.

David Singer, the Precinct 5 town councilor, is not running for re-election.

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