To the Editor:
I respectfully disagree with Charter Revision Commission Chairman Rob Kane’s letter in last week’s Town Times that council-manager government is vibrant and well in Watertown-Oakville.
The most obvious example of the inertia and inept nature of council-manager government in the past 60 years is the status of our Town Hall.
In 1904 we elected our chief executive in Watertown, then called the First Selectman. The Watertown-Oakville farmers and merchants of those days erected a state-of-the-art Town Hall on DeForest Street suiting our needs during that horse and buggy era.
In 1961, Watertown-Oakville ceased electing its chief executive or first selectman. It was now an era of cars, jet planes and modern businesses. The professional town manager, appointed by the Town Council and not elected directly by the people, would now guide the town to greater heights.
One obvious immediate need as soon as this government was installed in 1961 was a new town hall. Still, almost 60 years later, we have no new town hall. Furthermore, the council-manager government finally decided to convert a 1928 era Watertown High School to be the “new” town hall.
Small town mayors like Tom Dunn in Wolcott and Bob Chatfield in Prospect have to live with the consequences of their actions in leading their respective towns as chief executives.
I advise you to visit the Wolcott and Prospect Town Halls as I did last week, Rob. They are beautifully done to serve a modern town. Town managers are here today and gone tomorrow. We citizens are not. We need a mayor in Watertown.
Please respect our petitions asking for a referendum on this issue on November 3rd.