Brattleboro reps had a mandate from the voters

WEST BRATTLEBORO — I am disgusted by the decision of Representative Town Meeting regarding the 1-percent local option sales tax.

As a town meeting member, I often have a difficult time knowing how best to represent the interests and opinions of my constituents. With the 1-percent tax, however, we had a mandate from those who elected us: they told us on election day that they preferred the sales tax to a greater property-tax burden.

Yet a huge majority of my fellow representatives voted against the tax after one member asked the town clerk about voter turnout and then quipped, “I don't think [the vote] is representative.”

Instead of following the mandate of voters, we heard anecdotal evidence from people who had “talked to their neighbors.” As a body, we allowed the evidence of “about 20 neighbors” - and the relentless lobbying of downtown merchants - to take precedence over a straight democratic vote.

If you don't believe the referendum was representative, how do you justify your own presence in the legislative chamber? You don't get to pick and choose which issues on the ballot are and are not representative of the voters' will.

When I moved to New England from “inside the Beltway,” I expected better.

I was one of a handful of representatives who stood for the 1-percent local option sales tax. I would advise voters to remember this day the next time they take up their pens in the voting booth.

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