TO THE EDITOR:
Seeking this role was a very deliberate decision; I retired after a 30-year career in sales, marketing and operations always intending to use those skills in public service. Six months have passed since I was honored with this seat. So, as I reflect on my performance, and now with a proposed $3M ARPA spending plan vote on the horizon, I ask myself
What is my role and responsibility as a minority member of the Board?
What are my personal goals as a member of the BoS?
When might you expect me to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a particular issue?
As the minority member of the BoS, I believe my role, first, is to absolutely ensure that every issue is properly vetted and that all information is available to the public. I need to be respectfully and objectively vocal and unashamed to voice a diverse opinion. My responsibility is to communicate that information to the best of my ability to engaged and informed voters and then represent them and their point of view.
From the onset, my person goal as a member of the BoS has been to bring rigor to our town processes, applying basic principles of due diligence, input and deliberation to develop goals, recommendations and track results. We should not be accepting of non-public subcommittees. We should demand public input into any issue. We should encourage dialogue, particularly amongst the selectmen whose role it is to set the priorities for the town. The ARPA planning process was an opportunity where I was able to achieve some of that; we secured $20K for the food pantry to target food insecurity as the result of the pandemic; we were able to invest in a Mental Health program to address the increasing needs of our community; and my colleague and I were able to compel a BoS meeting in advance of the Board vote to put the ARPA plan forward. That meeting was a healthy and robust dialogue between the selectmen and although we did not agree on everything, we made compromises that we believe will be good for Westonites. I am focused on strengthening the process of Board of Selectmen work conduct and product. Realistically the “third wheel” has little actual influence over the outcome of BoS agenda, deliberations and decisions given the design of the Weston BoS (per Town Charter). However, if process of BoS work improves, then I, as the minority representative, am better positioned to inform all Weston voters. It is my hope that then, you will be inspired to participate in public comments, meetings, and referendums at a higher rate. Better informed voters participating in referendums at increased rates equates to improved outcomes for all Weston residents. Perhaps if nothing else, the benefit of the political minority “Third Wheel” BoS member can be to best engage and empower more Weston voters.
While I am a registered republican, I can assure you that in this seat, I am committed to objective, non-partisan consideration and deliberation on ALL issues. What better role for a “third wheel” than “Devil’s Advocate”? Town issues are not partisan issues. Integral to my party and background is fiscal conservatism, so you can always be sure that I make decisions with an eye towards that. A “yes” or “no” vote from me on an issue will never be a partisan decision, nor will it be a reflection of my personal values. Like every other Westonite, I can voice my personal opinion during a town vote. When I am aware that an issue will require a vote, I work to solicit diverse opinions (and have been transparent that I turn a blind eye to orchestrated email campaigns); I ask subject matter experts and mentors; I look to literature and precedents… in other words, I try hard to make an informed vote. I will vote “yes” if I believe something will benefit the town or its people. I will vote “no” if I believe something will adversely affect the townspeople or the environment, including our fragile water ecosystem. I will vote “no” on adding headcount or operational processes. A “no” vote, at a minimum, will signal to you my conviction that Town government can do better, and that Weston voters should expect better. Being given complete information in advance of a vote is paramount. ARPA and the process has taught us that ‘in the absence of information, we will fill in the blanks’. I would like to have a goal to provide complete information well in advance of a vote to everyone. Only then can we make well informed, appropriately vetted decisions about an issue.
In closing, this has been an amazing 6 months. I am inspired by the people of this town and all that we can accomplish. I am optimistic about the progress we have made but candidly, very concerned about low voter turnout. Disillusionment, indifference, or sense of futility are the common reasons for low turnout. I choose to believe that it is a lack of awareness of the importance of local voting. We have key issues in front of us, including ARPA and the FOC. These both involve big dollars that should be invested wisely. We must be listen, be candid and transparent, speak our mind and respect the opinions of those who feel differently. And most importantly, vote on Saturday.
— Amy Jenner
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