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.