The revised town charter lays out a comprehensive, fair, and well-thought-out system for governing the town of Weston for years to come, and it should receive the wholehearted support of voters on Nov. 6.
It took the Weston Charter Revision Commission about a year to complete the charter revision process, which included nearly 40 meetings, public hearings, interviews, and often lengthy discussions about every section and article of the charter. The process was exhaustive; the result is impressive.
It would have been simpler for the commission to pick and choose “problem areas” in the charter and make adjustments — but it would not have solved the bigger problem of a document that was often disjointed, unclear, outdated, and sometimes even contradictory. The commission chose instead to completely rewrite the charter, resulting in what members have rightly called “a coherent integrated system.”
The only problem with that is voters will not be able to pick and choose from among their own pet “problem areas”; they may not vote on what they like about the new charter and what they don’t.
For example, some may be happy to see that an automatic referendum is now part of the budget process, but they may not like that the Annual Town Budget Meeting may now reduce the amount that goes to a machine vote only if 2% (currently about 130) of qualified voters attend the ATBM.
Or, one may agree with eliminating school board “safe seats” during certain election years but disagree with changing finance board terms from six years to four.
But government — effective government, anyway — is often about compromise. Voters must look at the charter changes as a whole and decide whether the new version is superior to the current one. And then, they must vote based on the answer to that question.
Take some time over the next two weeks to go to the town website, westonct.gov, and click on About Weston and then Weston Charter Commission Update. Three helpful separate documents are available: the proposed new charter in its entirety (Appendix C), a word-by-word comparison of the old charter and the proposed new one (Appendix D); and a report on the changes, which details the reasons behind the most substantive changes being recommended (Final Report to Selectmen). Review these to see what the commission is proposing, and what you, the voter, is being asked to approve.
This vote is arguably more important to daily life in Weston than a vote for the U.S. president. It will affect the way the town is run and how decisions are made, how residents are taxed and treated, what services are available. The charter is what makes Weston Weston.
The proposed new charter makes Weston better. Vote Yes on the charter question at the bottom of the ballot Nov. 6.