Editorial omits relevant pieces of information

  • Northfield Town Hall  FILE PHOTO/SHELBY ASHLINE

Published: 7/10/2020 2:10:43 PM
Modified: 7/10/2020 2:10:32 PM

I write in regard to the July 7 editorial “Who will fill those extra seats?” As someone who served on the 2013 Town Governance Committee, I had hoped that with a new editor-in-chief, there would be better researched editorials. It seems that either the reports by the 2013 Town Governance Committee or the 2019 Town Governance Committee were either not read — or the author(s) chose to ignore what was in both reports. The editorial is incomplete, omitting several relevant pieces of information.

In the research done by the 2013 Committee, we found that few towns in Franklin County had an empowered town administrator or a five-member Select Board. But outside of Franklin County, to the north, south, east, and west, many towns had both an empowered town administrator and a five-member Select Board. We interviewed government officials in Worcester and Berkshire counties, Southern New Hampshire, and Southern Vermont with respect to expanding to a five-member Select Board. But their consistent advice was to move first to an empowered town administrator, and then go to a five-member Select Board. That was our recommendation to the town which was accepted at Town Meeting — almost unanimously. 

The 2013 Committee was also greatly impressed with the fact, included in both reports, that of the many towns that increased from three to five Select Board members, not one had switched back to a three member board. This significant fact was also not included in the editorial.

The negative focus, indicated in the title of your editorial, is whether enough people will volunteer to serve the town. Even with the assistance of a town administrator, serving on the Select Board is a lot of work and requires a huge time commitment – as referenced in the letter from Lois Stearns. Isn’t it obvious that more folks would run for the position if the work was shared by five instead of three? 

You imply that an uncontested campaign signifies a lack of interest. You might have had a point if there had been elections in which there was no candidate – but this has never happened. If an election was uncontested it probably indicated a vote of confidence for an incumbent candidate.  

I hope you will review a Recorder editorial about our town government from a few years back entitled, “Northfield, Take a Bow!”

 Sam Richardson is a resident of Northfield.

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