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A mayor in town future?

Charter panel weighs move away from manager

May 18, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — In one of its more controversial concepts, the Charter Review Committee decided Tuesday to leave the door open for potentially replacing the appointed town manager with an elected mayor.

"I'm sure this will be discussed for several meetings," noted vice-chair Gary Fontaine. "… That's going to be a big deal."

Member Deborah Gregoire-Lefebvre agreed, saying, "I don't want to make a hasty decision [on this]."

The idea came from member and former Town Councilor Kenneth O'Brien, who argued it would provide "separation of powers" and a clearer chain of authority answerable to the voters. Initially, he sought to have the panel take "an up or down vote" on actually eliminating the town manager post, but the panel ultimately agreed simply to research both options.

"The reality is, we have a system of 'pass the buck,'" he charged. "…The buck doesn't stop anywhere. It ends up being two cents worth of vapid campaign rhetoric without any responsibility or accountability."

In a lengthy introduction laden with assertions in question form, O'Brien alleged opponents of the concept lack "common sense" and decisions are being made by "people who don't live here" and don't "have to live with the consequences," among other things.

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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