Elect by district, not at large, for council, budget committee?
To the editor:
As a candidate for the Town Charter Review Commission, I have been interested to see all of the political discussion and debate. Much of it has been narrow in focus and misleading as to the nature of the Charter Review Commission’s actual role. It would appear the only point that matters to the many of the candidates is the status of the Financial Town Referendum and matters of the budget. While funding the day to day and long term operations of the town is obviously paramount, I feel these scare tactics are disingenuous and wrong.
The Town Charter is the framework for all town government. It covers the workings and responsibilities of the Town Council, Budget Committee, etc. I would start by saying that I am in favor of the FTR over the former Town Meetings.
Let me be so bold as to suggest that there just may be ways of improving it. I am in favor of having a full time Budget Committee in the town which listens to the various town employees and residents, does due diligence and properly vets a budget thoroughly.
Let me also have the audacity to suppose there might be better ways of making this system work, including any petitioner’s budgets. I am constantly amazed by the complete assuredness of some candidates who feel the system at hand is the best and only system we can work with “for all residents.” I might offer to them that the FTR was not the original way of settling the town’s financial matters, but there was change and adaptation. I propose there could be more change and more adaptation to help bolster turnout and have the town feel it has a larger voice in the budget process.
As an example of a simple alteration, the Town Council and Budget Committee could have their methods of election changed. We could go from a simple majority of votes to districts and at-large candidates so that the communities in Tiverton know they have a specific representative looking out for them, while all residents would know that they have at large candidates looking out for the town as a whole. I am not advocating wholesale change of all portions of the charter. There are so many that would be near impossible. But, I would also not be so myopic as to say “this is the best way” without even attempting to try to find a better one. At times governmental intervention is necessary, and at times there is far too much. A balance is a difficult thing to strike, but we must work together to find the best way for our town.
Jason C. Mello
Candidate, Tiverton Charter Review Commission