Urges longer terms of office in Washington
To the Editor:
This year in Washington, there is no race for the first selectman's job, but there are significant ballot questions that deserve our attention and ultimately our support.
The questions are whether to extend the terms of service for the positions of selectmen, tax collector and treasurer to four years, starting after the 2015 elections -- not this year -- with the selectmen's jobs generally considered the most overtly political of the three.
The other towns in our regional school district, Roxbury and Bridgewater, already have four-year terms.
I asked Roxbury's longtime first selectman, Barbara Henry, why she considered the longer term to be necessary for the job.
Her reply was generally, "With all that is required to see a project come to fruition these days, especially when dealing with the state, it's nice that the CEO has a longer term to oversee it from start to finish. Four-year terms lend continuity to day-to-day operations and complement road, bridge and other capital projects. With two-year terms, one is gearing up to a campaign one year into the term.
"A newly elected CEO with a two-year term is working with his or her predecessor's budget, then has to look at campaigning for the next election."
Here in Washington, if four-year terms were to be adopted, the biggest beneficiary of this development would not be the incumbents, but their successors.
Incumbent First Selectman Mark Lyon has had six years to acclimate himself to both the big picture as well the arcanum involved with the position.
As far as any opposition that may arise from the Washington Democratic Town Committee on this issue, I would remind voters when the previous CEO was in office, they were in favor of lengthening the term because it was their man in office.
The tendency with this issue is that the party out of power tries to label this initiative as the incumbency protection act.
The reality is that the only time in three election cycles the WDTC has fielded a candidate, the result was a 20-point loss following an especially negative campaign.
Washington has been incorporated since 1779. Suffice it to say there are things other than defeating a particular officeholder in the next election cycle that deserve our attention.
Extending terms of service for these officeholders would be an affirmative step forward for our community.