BRATTLEBORO — The fellow who collected hundreds of signatures to amend the Brattleboro Town Charter to replace the Selectboard form of governance with that of a mayoral form of governance, told me that four local businessmen paid him.
When he had collected enough signatures and it was his last day tabling at the Co-op, he joked that now he would be out of work. To my knowledge, past initiatives have made it onto the ballot only by the dedication of unpaid volunteers.
In effect, four individuals who were willing and able to pay bought a place on the ballot. That seems awful to me.
I would have welcomed my banker and friend, Dan Yates, if he had personally tabled at the Co-op... but paying someone?
Without doubt, paying to place this initiative on the ballot is a portent of how money would increasingly play a role in Brattleboro politics with a mayoral system.
From the moment a mayor is elected, the campaign begins for the next election. Campaign fundraising becomes a priority, divisive issues assume prominence, and the mayor's attention cannot be fully focused on sound administration.
Currently, Peter Elwell, our town manager is a nonpartisan administrator who does an awfully good job keeping the wheels turning efficiently. He is gracious, and he gets things done without unnecessary complication.