(Host) On Tuesday, Bennington voters will consider changing the way their city is governed. A non-binding question on the town meeting ballot asks voters if they would support a switch from a town manager system to a form of government headed by a mayor.
Former town manager Robert Matteson leads a small group of people pushing the idea. Matteson says a strong activist mayor can do more for Bennington than a town manager, who’s basically an administrator.
(Matteson) “If a place is facing major economic and social issues, and I think Bennington is, then what is needed is someone who is elected by all the people and who is validated thereby, who can present a vision for the future and can fight for it.”
(Host) Matteson says a ‘yes’ vote Tuesday won’t necessarily mean the town will be able to adopt a mayoral form of government; the Legislature would have to approve the charter change. He says he hopes his effort will stimulate more discussion about Bennington’s future.
Longtime Bennington Town Clerk Tim Corcoran has been an outspoken critic of the proposed mayoral system. Corcoran says town matters are best handled by a capable administrator, not by a politician.
(Corcoran) “I believe that by far professional management would far outweigh going to a political situation. You hire a person to manage the town and politics is pretty much put aside. The decisions that are made are made on professional considerations rather than political.”
(Host) Five years ago a similar effort to change to a mayoral system of government was unsuccessful in Bennington.
VPR’s Town Meeting Day coverage in available online.