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Dilute The Power Of Belmar’s Politicians

I would like to extend my best wishes to Mayor Pringle with whatever he decides to do in the future. Whatever one thinks of his policies, everyone agrees he has worked tirelessly in pursuing them and deserves to take some time off and have some fun. Of course those of us who are critical of some of those policies wish he had taken more time off over the past twenty years. This leads me to consider whether maybe we have given the mayoral position too much power.

Does Belmar want the next mayor to wield as much power as Pringle has?  I think most residents, even Pringle’s supporters, would be wary of giving another single person the ability to so much influence life in Belmar. While those who agree with a particular mayor’s policies may enjoy it while he is in office, they must remember that the next mayor, who they might oppose, can use that same power to impose his ideas on them. This only increases divisiveness and ill will in deciding policy on any particular issue. People will be more willing to accept a new policy if it comes from consensus and not dictated to them, no matter how charismatic the person doing the dictating is.

With the goal of bringing more power and better representation to the populace might I make the following suggestions?

Increase the number of councilmen from four to six and give the mayor the right to vote only as a tie breaker. By having six council members, still elected at-large (town wide, not divided into districts), we provide more opportunity for people with minority viewpoints to be represented. By having a smaller ratio of residents per councilman we would bring our government closer to the people. Limiting the mayor’s voting power will help ensure that no one personality can dominate the debate, as some would say we have seen under Pringle.

I would also like to see more people run when there is a seat open. To be on the ballot in this fall’s council race only requires forty two petition signatures. I encourage anyone with strongly held views on public policy to join the debate. I might even be on the ballot myself as a pro-liberty candidate.

I’ve thought about pushing for term limits but they are undemocratic and may not be necessary here. Nationally they would probably be a good idea so we can get rid of the professional political class we now have in Washington. Locally, however, maybe just diluting the power of each of our leaders will improve the politics of this town and lead to policies that enjoy a greater consensus.

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