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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A Different Opinion on 3 to 5

Sudbury resident Dan DePompei explains why increasing the number of members on the Board of Selectmen is better.

The upcoming ballot initiative to increase Sudbury’s selectmen from 3 to 5 has generated differing opinions about the issues in Sudbury’s governance.

One recently published opinion column by Mr. David Wallace, Sudbury selectman 1986-1982, stated “the real issue in Sudbury and all over the country is the issue of incumbency and the ability of an electorate to realize when it is truly time for a change.” Realizing the time for change in Sudbury is difficult, because we have no established standards to measure the performance of our government officials.

Long-term incumbency in any office is beneficial to the electorate if the incumbent continually produces measurable, positive progress against established goals and objectives. Success or failure of any incumbent and the need for change is validated by reviewing progress against goals and objectives.

Our selectmen have eliminated written goals and objectives for Sudbury.  Apparently they do not want the electorate to measure their performance.

Sudbury, it is time for change. 

Mr. Wallace also stated “the lack of competition and the re-elections of Selectmen O’Brien and Drobinski validates their incumbency.” Sudbury has limited and often no competition for elected office because the incumbents discourage competition.

In past elections, members of the School Committee have written negative e-mails specifically to discredit new candidates and to support the incumbents.  These e-mails are distributed to Sudbury residents with children in the school system and are very effective influencing the election in favor of the incumbents. Even though this practice violates governing codes of ethics and is known to many (if not all) of our elected officials, the practice is tolerated. 

Potential candidates for office, knowing the disadvantages they face competing with entrenched incumbents, are simply less likely to campaign.

Sudbury, it is time for change. 

Mr. Wallace finally states “any effort at this time to dilute the incumbent’s power would be detrimental to the management of Sudbury.” In actuality, increasing the selectmen from 3 to 5 does not dilute, or in any way change, the power of the selectmen’s office. It does dilute the power of each individual incumbent, but the total power is unchanged.

Sudbury suffers from the classic dysfunctions of long term incumbency. We govern with too many friendships coupled with too much concentration of power. We need to increase objectivity on the Board of Selectmen and dilute individual power.

Vote yes for 3 to 5 on the March 25, 2013 ballot.

Dan DePompei

Haynes Road

siobhan hullinger February 28, 2013 at 12:31 PM
Great letter, Dan.
Ralph Tyler February 28, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Pat Delaney's letter to the editor in the Feb 21st Sudbury Town Crier explained another important benefit of the 5-member board which is that the dynamics of a 5 member board is more receptive to new ideas and handles differences of opinion more effectively. With 3-member boards either everyone ageees or it leads to votes of 2 to 1, which if 2 members are like minded, will lead the third member to feel marginalized. The link to this Mr. Delaney's letter is: http://www.wickedlocal.com/sudbury/news/opinions/letters/x1522326046/Letter-A-five-member-board-would-be-more-effective#axzz2MCZ1in5Q Pat was one of the most effective board member I've ever encountered in Sudbury, which suggests his perspective developed from his years of experience is especially important. Another advantage of a 5-member board is that one member can talk with another to sound out the germ of a new idea outside of formal meetings. Which means that by the time of a meeting, new ideas should be more developed, thoughful, and shaped to address possible concerns. VOTE YES for 5 Selectmen

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