Derry residents who are frustrated by the inaction and dysfunction on the Town Council have an opportunity to change the council for the better: Two seats on the seven-member board are opening.
Councilors Brad Benson and Neil Wetherbee have said they will not seek re-election after serving two terms each. Benson holds an at-large seat; Wetherbee represents District 3. Both councilors cited the tensions on the current council and lack of progress on key issues in support of their decisions to step down.
“There are a number of things that factored into my decision-making process,” Wetherbee told our reporter, “but probably first and foremost is both the caustic environment of the current council, combined with the lack of leadership and progress over the past year.”
Benson said he was disappointed in the council’s leadership and its lack of vision.
“We have not done what we were elected to do which is move this community forward,” he said. “We were making progress at bringing the community together and now we are farther apart than ever.”
Benson and Wetherbee deserve the town’s thanks for their years of service. Their criticism of the council’s dysfunction is accurate.
Benson and Wetherbee had been part of a comfortable majority on the Town Council. But the elections last March ended that and left the council sharply divided. Little has been accomplished since and new chairman Michael Fairbanks has been unable to build any consensus among council members or advance any agenda.
Indeed, the council has failed at some of its most basic functions. Derry has been without a town administrator since July. Starting a search for a new administrator has been bogged down by “goal-setting” workshops of dubious value and quibbling over details of the process.
Recently, the administrator search has appeared on the council’s agenda for the meeting of Jan. 7 but was put off because the meeting ran long. At the Jan. 22 meeting, the search was not discussed -- other than to address objections to the manner in which a special meeting was called for Tuesday night. The council was scheduled to launch the administrator search at that meeting.
Derry is not being well served by this current iteration of the Town Council.
Fortunately, citizens have a ready solution at hand -- the ballot box.
So far, two candidates have announced their intentions to run for the open seats. Newcomer Joshua Bourdon plans to run for the at-large Town Council seat and David Fischer signed up for the District 3 position.
We encourage more interested Derry residents to join the fray.
The process is simple. An interested party must file a declaration of candidacy with the town clerk by the deadline tomorrow, Jan. 31. Candidates must be registered voters age 18 or older and have lived in Derry for at least one year. The candidate for the District 3 seat must live in the district.
It’s easy to sit back and complain about the quality of Derry’s governance. It’s quite another thing to do something about it.
We encourage concerned Derry residents to take the harder route: Get out and run for public office. Make the case to your fellow voters. And, when elected, do what it takes to get the town back on track and moving forward.