To the editor:
Danvers is facing a Town election in which we have a contested race for Selectman. Bill Clark and Gardner Trask, the incumbents are facing a challenge by Richard Bettencourt.
Running for any elected office is a noble undertaking. Competition is healthy and choice is good, but it appears this new candidate has thrown his hat in the ring with minimal background, no easily definable positions, and no specific agenda. How am I as a voter supposed to make an informed decision? Where are the debates or position statements?
Mr. Bettencourt’s primary qualification seems to be name recognition. On his web page he answers a self-posed “why am I running” question by a lengthy paragraph dedicated to name dropping 6 family members who have served their communities.
He notes there are “tough economic hurdles” to face, yet he offers no specifics to what should be changed. He does not propose a single budget adjustment. As a matter of fact, he has not sat in on any of the four Selectman’s budget meetings in the past three weeks. How can you comment on a budget you have never seen?
He suggests that his desire to serve is “strong” since he came to town 6 years ago, yet he has never served on a town board or commission. He has never even sought office as a Town Meeting Member. And as far as I or my neighbors can tell, he has never attended a Town Meeting or Selectman’s Meeting.
And most telling; how can I be convinced his commitment to Danvers is “strong” when according to State election records Mr. Bettencourt has not voted once in the May elections for the past five years? Participation in our democracy is a right fought for by and guaranteed many greater than I.
The role of Selectman should not be a “learn-on-the-job” position. (We have tried that on the Presidential Level) Mr. Bettencourt, if you want to get involved, I applaud that. Start with serving on a board, a commission, or as a town meeting member. Learn about the job you want. Go to Selectman’s meetings. Read the budget. Take a public stand. Speak in a debate. And the most effective way you can help effect the town is to actually exercise your rights and vote in a Town election.