LETTER: Reader says Birch “well-suited” to role on Planning Board

To the Editor:

I have been involved in Williamstown government for many years, but until today I have not publicly endorsed any candidate for elected town office. I am breaking my habit now to endorse Dante Birch for the Williamstown Planning Board because he possesses the personal qualities that are essential to the success and credibility of town boards.

Good town government is marked by board members who have attributes like Dante’s: an authentic willingness to explore different points of view, an inquiring mind that remains open to finding the best solutions, an honest respect for all the citizens of the town, a commitment to transparency, and skill in building consensus. 

These qualities are especially important for a Planning Board because zoning decisions, by their nature, can easily create divisiveness among the voters. Williamstown has suffered this in the context of several Planning Board proposals in recent years that have been rejected, required amendment at Town Meeting, or were withdrawn altogether in the face of overwhelming opposition from the community. 

To mitigate the potential for divisiveness, Planning Board members have to be particularly careful to be balanced in their analyses and consideration of alternate approaches, including among board members. They need to thoroughly research all issues, think through their proposals carefully, and display a genuine understanding of the interests of all parts of the community. Dante is a careful and respectful researcher, thinker, and listener. He possesses all the qualities we should want in a pubic servant.

Dante is well suited to this role not only by his personality, but also by his work experience. He is a project manager who has the organizational and planning skills to develop sound approaches to complex problems, and he coordinates teams of individuals to implement those approaches. We want the Planning Board to operate well, and its operations would be improved if Dante is a member.

In addition, Dante understands well the perspectives of young families moving to Williamstown and wanting to stay here. He would bring this valuable perspective to the Board and help our community to grow.

Please vote for Dante Birch at the Williamstown elections on Tuesday, May 14.

Andy Hogeland

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