March 29 election this year is on same date as 11 years ago
I was rummaging around my basement over the weekend looking through boxes in storage untouched for many years when I stumbled across one containing remnants of the past two Charter campaigns.
While there were two votes on the Mayor/Council/Manager form of government, the first losing by an agonizing 14 votes and the second two years later by 252, only one Charter Commission was ever formed as the 2nd vote was simply a do over
For the first go round the state required 15% of the registered voters to sign a petition calling for a Charter Commission which at the time came to 2,600 signatures, but to revote the exact same Charter a second time required 10%.
Either way pretty much all the signatures were collected single-handed by the most determined man in the history of Amherst, Stan Durnakowski.
Stan went on to be elected as one of the nine Charter Commission members and worked hard to convince fellow Commissioners we needed a strong Mayor & City Council, pretty much mirroring our good neighbor to the west, Northampton.
That concept lost by a 5-4 vote and the Commission endorsed a weak Mayor, Council and Town Manager. At the time Barry Del Castilho was a popular Town Manager and the Commission probably thought it best to keep him around.
Time for a change! More so than just daylight savings
But this coming March 29 is a blank slate. Voters get to approve the formation of a Charter Commission with nine new members who never served before.
Voting yes on Question One is only half the battle. Choose your 9 Commissioners wisely:
Stan will be watching!