Even with all 240 Town Meeting seats up for grabs, the lack of competition for the highest elected office in town, Select Board, combined with a plethora of status quo candidates for Library and School Committee--a good thing in the former not so good in the latter--will lead to a fairly routine, lousy, voter turnout in the 18% range (while the upcoming November Presidential election turnout will be in the fairly routine 70% range).
On Tuesday Amherst Regional High School will distribute 2nd period "report cards". For School Committee this election should also act as a report card for the only incumbent candidate, Irv Rhodes: Fail.
For the past few years--certainly the entire three year tenure of Mr. Rhodes on School Committee--the exceedingly high average per student cost of Amherst education compared to state average or especially compared to Northampton has been an issue of contention, especially since that steep investment does not result in corresponding high MCAS results.
Most Recent MCAS results: worst in seven years
Former School Committee members Catherine Sanderson and Steve Rivkin brought up this platinum plated disparity continuously at SC meetings, Amherst Bulletin columns and on Ms. Sanderson's high traffic exceedingly public school committee blog--the one Mr. Rhodes wanted the District Attorney to investigate for Open Meeting Law violations.
In fact, a School Budget Advisory Committee was formed in early 2010 specifically to ascertain why Amherst's average costs were $4,000 higher per student than Northampton's. Four months later they disbanded in disgust due to a lack of cooperation by highly-paid school administrators.
Apparently the only impression made on Mr. Rhodes by all that budgetary discussion was to develop knots in his stomach. Mr Rhodes also failed to file his campaign financial report due last week. If he can't properly run a low-budget school committee campaign, how can voters have confidence in him to oversee a $50 million enterprise?
Two other SC candidates--Amilcar Shabazz and Lawrence O'Brien--are also firmly in the blank check, rubber stamp, cheerleaders for highly-paid school administrator league.
Michael Aronson, on the other hand, has made that whopping spending disparity between Amherst and Northampton a campaign centerpiece. And he has the guts and business experience to do something about it. Thus the School Committee voting choice could not be more black and white: Bullet vote for Michael Aronson.
The Jones Library Trustee race (also two seats open for 3 year terms) really is as simple as ABC: Anyone But Carol! Carol Gray, that is.
After running off 30 year director Bonnie Isman and seeing her partner in mayhem Pat Holland defeated last year as a result, Ms Gray's ignominious defeat is like a long lost library book: W-a-y overdue.