There are 5 questions on Tuesday's ballot, 4 of which are binding.
In one way or another, every question is about representation and accountability. Following is how we are voting on each question, and why.
QUESTION #1: NO
The backers of this ballot question are asking voters to reduce the number of At-Large Councilors from 8 to 6, touting a savings of $20,000 as one of their primary reasons to shrink the Council. On the surface that may sound reasonable, but what they don't say is that $20,000 is only a savings of 50 cents per resident.
The backers' attempt to misdirect voters into focusing on savings instead of focusing on the effect of the proposed reduction, is troubling. There is a reason our forefathers structured the City Council the way they did. Fewer At-Large Councilors means less ability for voters in all Wards to be able to hold the Council accountable for their actions. To cite 2 recent examples of how changing the balance (8 At-Large vs. 7 Ward councilors) affects residents in different parts of the city, imagine what the outcome might have been in Ward 5 and Ward 7, with Walmart and a casino, if voters in those Wards didn't have the ability to hold 8 At-Large Councilors accountable for their actions?
This is a question of representation and accountability. Not one of cost. If backers want to reduce the size of the Council by 2, they should reduce the Ward representation by 1 seat, and the At-Large representation by 1 seat, in order to keep the balance as it was meant to be, maintaining accountability citywide.
Preserve your ability to hold the City Council accountable for their actions.
Vote NO on Question 1.
QUESTION #2: NOThe backers of this question want to extend the Mayor's term to 4 years, beginning in 2017. The problem with this proposal is that citizens need to have a mechanism by which they can hold their elected representatives accountable for their actions, especially on a local level where decisions have a far greater, and more immediate, impact on our daily lives. 4 Years is too long a window to go without the checks and balances an election brings. Responsive and accountable Mayors will be re-elected. Bad ones won't. As it should be.
Vote NO on Question 2.
The backers of this question want to extend the City Council's term to 4 years, beginning in 2017. The problem with this proposal, as with question 2 above, is that citizens need to have a mechanism by which they can hold their elected representatives accountable for their actions, especially on a local level where decisions have a far greater, and more immediate, impact on our daily lives. 4 Years is too long a window to go without the checks and balances an election brings. Responsive and accountable Councilors will be re-elected. Bad ones won't. As it should be.Vote NO on Question 3.
QUESTION #4: YES
The backers of this question want to merge the City Treasurer position with the Tax Collector position and change the City Treasurer from an elected position, to one which is appointed by the City Council. Our opinion is that the City Treasurer should be chosen based on his/her qualifications, experience and proven ability to do the job well -- not on his/her popularity or ability to raise campaign money.
To get the most qualified Treasurer, change it from an elected to an appointed position.
Vote YES on Question 4.
The backers of this question want to replace the elected position of Mayor with a City Council-appointed position of City Manager. In this case, the City Manager would be accountable only to the Councilors, not to the voters. The major problem with this proposal is that it removes the ability of the voters to directly hold Holyoke's highest ranking official accountable for his/her actions by placing a buffer (the City Council) between the voters and the Mayor/Manager.
Vote NO on Question 5.