Letter: An Open Letter to All New and Re-elected Members of the Amherst Town Council.


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Congratulations on your victory! I hope you’re excited and ready for the public service you have chosen to pursue. From what I can tell, it’s a harder job than many candidates realize, requiring lots of study, tons of time, superb people skills, and unusual amounts of patience and goodwill.

I’m glad to read that Amherst Forward’s leadership says the election is “proof positive that Amherst voters want a vibrant community with:

  • experienced, collaborative, and optimistic town officials
  • affordable housing for all residents
  • thriving small businesses
  • well-resourced public schools
  • safe, accessible roadways and sidewalks
  • civic engagement can better our community”

I didn’t find any candidate, along the spectrum of views and personalities, that doesn’t agree all of those are our everyday and forever goals.

I hope you will consider these points:

  • Collaboration means creatively engaging with people who have different perspectives, not just rowing together with like-minded crew members. Collaboration breeds innovation and creativity. It’s different than forming a victorious majority.
  • Affordable housing for all means exploring the unintended consequences of your tactics. If we want a year-round economy of a diverse population, we cannot plant seeds that will  grow only one kind of tree.
  • If we want thriving businesses, we need to make sure that “mixed use” means more than downtown dorms with a minimal amount of commercial space on the ground floor. You can’t simultaneously claim that you can’t find tenants and brag that downtown commercial space is 94% rented.
  • Our own experience shows that when all ideas and opinions are considered (in planning a school, for instance) you will end up with a project that passes with widespread support.
  • That deferred maintenance (of our 100 miles of roads, for instance) is not a solution. The solution to our problem might involve new ways of doing business, for instance, a coalition of towns that have more buying power and importance as a customer.
  • That civic engagement has multiple benefits: when people are heard, they feel heard and consequently are likely to have more buy-in. And when they are heard, there is more wisdom being shared.

I hope that all members of the Town Council will feel encouraged and permitted to engage in true collaboration, remembering that you being great in this role requires that you keep your promise to the community of Amherst, the only entity that you represent and to whom you answer.

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1 thought on “Letter: An Open Letter to All New and Re-elected Members of the Amherst Town Council.

  1. Amherst schools and the library have had leaking roofs for years. The bridge on 116 at Mill Valley has not been maintained for over 20 years and is now severely deteriorated. Please prioritize maintenance and take care of the basics so the (approximately) 7,800 Amherst tax payers don’t have to be taxed out of town with new building projects.

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