2009-11-11 / Editorial

Be ready for downsizing vote if campaign promise kept

Bee Editorial
Some say Republicans won in the town because an anti-Democratic tidal wave deluged the area from the federal level. Whatever it was, the GOP victory in Amherst on Nov. 3 left a seasoned politician as supervisor and three newcomers on the Town Board — all of whom have said they will support the public’s right to vote on downsizing.

Whether it was something in the water or in the air, town residents were drawn to Republicans on Election Day. Perhaps it was because the candidates said they were willing to give residents the right to vote on the size of the board.

With the general election behind us, and this year nearing its end, we anticipate that a special election on the downsizing matter isn’t too far away in 2010.

In preparation for this vote, we encourage all residents to really think about what a five-member board would mean.

Is the $50,000 spent annually for salaries, plus benefits, worth having two additional representatives — two more decision-makers?

Or is seven just too many people? An excessive number for the decisions and tasks that are regularly before them? Or would five be spread too thin, trying to represent a town of 120,000 people?

When baking a chocolate cake there is the option of buying Hershey’s brand cocoa powder or the store brand. For some, paying extra for the brand name makes the difference — a better cake. Others buy generic, save money and don’t notice the difference.

There is the seven-member “more expensive” board that should be able to do more than a leaner five-member board.

What happens when a developer is proposing a super-duper gas station next to your house? Do you want seven people asking the questions, pondering the pros and cons and ultimately voting, or is five enough?

We aren’t going to express our opinion on the matter at this time, because we also have some research to do and consequences to weigh.

Kevin Gaughan, who is leading the charge for downsizing across Western New York, has been very vocal about the issue. We want to hear from the other side — those who don’t think Amherst has too many elected officials. And we want to hear from those supporting downsizing.

It would be advantageous for the board to bring this motion forward in January, set the vote, and allow both sides the chance to present their reasons to the public.

Say what you will about campaign promises, but we believe the Republicans will bring this issue forward. Be ready when they do.

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