NOTE: This blog post was provided by concerned Amherst citizens who wish to remain anonymous)
This election cycle has been quite contentious. One reason is the 10‐page ballot where we are being asked to vote on many issues and candidates which has led to much debate, disagreement and will ultimately be decided by those who vote. What is our collective vision of Amherst in 5, 10, 20 years from now? What do we do about our broken schools and education system?
What we need in our School Board candidates, our School Moderator and our Planning Board is leadership, not activism. Stability over emotion.
We agree, our schools need help but not at the exorbitant ask we see on the ballot for the bond, the budget and the AEA contract! Our school board needs change. The Amherst school board come back with the same massive elementary bond component just one short year after the larger bond package for both schools was rejected soundly by the voters. The AEA benefits package will cripple our taxpayers in perpetuity. ASD Ways and Means did an exhaustive study to look at value for our every increasing school tax dollars, comparing spending per pupil in different systems. Their conclusion offered creative solutions and ideas to address the problem of poorly performing preparedness in our students and spiraling staffing cost. They have been mercilessly attacked by those behind the massive new school building for having to be the bearer of the terrible news that is the reality of our SAU39! We can own the issues and address them, or we can continue to deny the facts and let the problems get worse.
Sending the incumbent back to the Amherst School Board would be a big mistake. We need to bring in people who will LISTEN. People who are open to fresh ideas and not married to one solution. We cannot re‐elect someone who has been a part of 6 years of bad decisions and fiscal irresponsibility. We need negotiators, business/financial minds and moderates will help work towards a compromise that serves both the taxpayers and the schools! Three of the five ASB candidates are committed fully to the big new school as THE solution and are unwilling to put forth options to the voters. Fortunately for Amherst, several people with great backgrounds in education and business with hands on experience have stepped up to run for school board and for school moderator. Anyone who has come out as clearly divisive and unwilling to work with the people concerned about these issues will fail this school district and we will be no further ahead a year from now. We can’t let that happen. The kids deserve leaders who will work towards a solution and not work against those who want
to help create one.
The second major issue on the ballot falls under the category of town planning. There was a survey done in Amherst recently, and the overwhelming response supports retaining the rural characteristic of our town. A few residents have come out in support of density housing and greedy developers love that idea. Striking the balance of respecting existing home zoning laws, providing opportunity to builders while honoring the vision of our town as summarized in our town survey proved to be quite a challenge. So much has been learned by our planning board through all of this and that is why there are many planning related warrants on this ballot. Clarification and a clear direction is the goal of most of these warrants. Many are definitional and some identify growth areas and zoning changes. Through all of this we have developed a seasoned, hands‐on planning board who understands the vision we have for our town. Local knowledge and experience matters when it comes to our planning board this election cycle. Once the trees are chopped down and the cluster housing, (loaded with rental ADU’s) is built, the Amherst we know and love is gone, forever.
It has been interesting to see people from across the political spectrum come together on some of these issues, proof that it is possible to unite for a better Amherst. We need change for the better in our school and stability and vision in planning for a better Amherst. Make a plan and VOTE on March 14th!
Tuesday’s weather continues to look troubling. Click the link below for more information on voting absentee at Town Hall on Monday up until 5 pm. Please spread the word to anyone who might not see this.