Opinion: Many reasons to support municipal building project
Among matters to be decided at the upcoming town meeting are selectboard elections. It ranks close to the top in importance, for the selectboard is the central instrument of town government. It is not supreme. Supremacy belongs to the people through the institution of town meeting. Yet it comes next. It is a continuing body that proposes and executes town policy, a corporate body whose members work in concert. It is responsible for public safety, town infrastructure, which includes all public works, creative financing that minimizes the tax burden, and a wide range of amenities that make civic life possible, and ensures public welfare. Voters have good reason, indeed a duty, to choose wisely among the candidates for office.
The qualities that they should require in selectboard members are good sense, a commitment to the public good, and a clear understanding of proper methods of procedure. Selectboard members must understand that the selectboard is a deliberative body, that to participate correctly in its business they must be willing to engage with each other in plain, open, and especially rational discourse. They must stand on principle, but be open to compromise, and must never lose sight of their ultimate goal, which is the well being of the town and the integrity of the civil society upon which our wellbeing depends. They must not be grandstanders, nor should they conduct selectboard business in the public media rather than openly and through proper procedures at regular meetings of the body. They must learn to leave their emotions at home and be willing to submit their opinions to rational scrutiny.
With that said, I offer my personal choices and endorsements among the current candidates for the selectboard. There are three positions open: one for one year and two for three years. My choice for the one-year position is Dean George. His many years of dedicated service to the town, his wide knowledge of its affairs, and his demonstrated leadership surely ranks him among the very best public officials who have ever served this town. If anyone deserves to be reelected by acclamation, it is Dean George. I sincerely hope this happens, and I also hope that the newly constituted selectboard will have enough good sense to elect him chair.
For the two three-years seats, I have in mind one sure candidate: Brian Carpenter. He is a lifelong resident of Middlebury, prominent in the business community, and has done distinguished service in the National Guard. He has risen to the rank of brigadier general, so there should be no doubt of his capacity for leadership, clear thinking, and dedication. As to others running, my mind is not made up. Among them, Eric Murray, who ran for the selectboard three years ago and nearly won, Laura Asermily, Ted Davis and John Freidin are persons of good will who care for the town and its wellbeing. So after Brian Carpenter, I will consider one of them.
These are my opinions, which anyone who reads this letter is free to take or leave. What they should not do is to underplay the importance of voting wisely.
Mark A. Nelson of Bristol
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