There is a great deal of discontent in Derry both with the quality of town government and the level of taxation. So it is disappointing that so few people chose to exercise their best opportunity to improve the town’s governance by running for office.
There are two open seats on the Town Council as two current members have chosen not to seek re-election. On the School Board, two incumbents are seeking re-election. Yet as the filing deadline for candidates passed last Friday, only one of these four seats will be contested in the March elections.
School budgets are increasing in Derry even as enrollment declines. The Town Council spends more time debating trivia and taking stands on pointless issues than accomplishing much of importance. The result: the downtown languishes, an important post like town administrator has gone unfilled for months and taxpayers endure one of the higher tax rates in the state.
There should have been a line out the town clerk’s door filled with righteously angry Derry residents determined to take a stand and fix this mess. Apparently, most are more than willing simply to sit at home and shout at the television as the local cable channel broadcasts municipal meetings.
As outgoing Town Councilor Neil Wetherbee wrote in a letter to the editor (see this page), the March 11 elections might as well be over.
“The 2014 town election results are in a little early this year but they’re very similar to other years -- apathy wins in a landslide,” Wetherbee wrote. “What’s that? You say town elections aren’t until March? Well no matter, because unless you live in District 3, all the people that control over $120 million of your tax dollars have already been decided without a single vote being cast. I trust everyone will be happy with the results but if not, don’t forget to take a long look in the mirror before voicing your complaints.”