On Nov. 6 Montgomery residents will decide the future structure of their county government. But before they go to the polls, the commission responsible for drafting the new charter wants to make sure people know what they’re voting on.
“We’re simply trying to educate the public,” said Charter Commission president Dusty Swanger, “so they can make the best decision for the county.”
Charter Information Meetings
* Wednesday, 7 p.m., Amsterdam City Hall
* Oct. 24, 7 p.m., Glen Town Hall
* Oct. 25, 7 p.m., Canajoharie Town Hall
In the interests of education, they’ve scheduled three public meetings across the county and launched informational websites.
Under the current system, the county is run by a board of 15 town supervisors.
The new charter would replace that board with an elected executive and nine-member legislature.
If passed, there will still be town supervisors, they’ll just be paid less and concentrate on their towns. The county would be split up into nine electoral districts along municipality lines to vote for the legislature. The executive, charged with making the day-to-day decisions, would be elected by the county as a whole.
There are arguments for and against the new form of government. Swanger said the current set up is outdated and Montgomery County is one of only seven counties in the state that hasn’t changed since the 1700s.
Some have said the new system would cost too much, which Swanger said cannot be predicted.
The late Board of Supervisors Chairman Sayne Walters was vehemently opposed to the charter, saying in a past Gazette interview, “The executive has too much power. If it passes, you won’t have control of your county any more.”
During the drafting of the charter, numerous public hearings were held, but all were very lightly attended.
“There wasn’t much participation during the process,” Swanger said, “but that is expected. People aren’t all that involved in their local government.”
Swanger said public education is important as Election Day approaches.
“People can be suspicious of government,” he said. “I’m concerned that people vote down what they don’t understand.”
At each meeting, members of the commission will make a short presentation on the history of the charter and its main points, followed by a question-and-answer session.
“Most people don’t know much about the county government or the charter proposal,” said commission member Bill Wills in a news release.
“I believe when they learn about it, and we explain why we made the choices we did, most people will say, ‘That makes sense.’ ”
Meetings will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Oct. 24 and 25 at Amsterdam City Hall, Glen Town Hall and Canajoharie Town Hall respectively.
A recording of the Amsterdam City Hall meeting will likely be posted online and broadcast on Public Access TV for those who can’t make it out.
For more information on the charter, visit www.montgomerycountycharter.com.
To post a question for the commission, visit www.facebook.com/montgomerycountycharter.