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I hear a recurring theme in my discussions with the community that people are mystified by decisions being made by town government, and often confused by the motivations behind them. The perception is that everything happens in a vacuum, with little transparency, and not always in the best interests of our citizens. Whether warranted or not, there seems to be an overall lack of trust.
I believe we can rebuild that trust if we have a transformation in the mindset at the top and implement some needed changes to how government functions. This starts with developing better management processes that incorporate transparency and accountability, breaking down silos between town functions, improving operational oversight, and simply bringing people together to solve problems. We have an amazing staff of talented, dedicated town employees who work hard every day for our community. We should harness their skills and strengths to create a more responsive government that is service-oriented and results driven.
In addition, we need to encourage more civic participation in policy decisions through improved public access to meetings and events. This includes better, more timely communications, and leveraging technology for community outreach and participation. The more that people are engaged, the more problems we can solve with the best ideas.
And finally, we should consider establishing a citizens’-driven ethics commission, which would allow public concerns to be vetted in a non-partisan forum and alleviate skepticism over policy choices. Unlike a majority of towns in our state, Madison has no mechanism to allow public inquiry into potential conflicts of interest for town officials or staff. An ethics commission creates this mechanism, increases transparency, and benefits everybody.
I believe a new leadership team can restore confidence in our government and I hope your readers will trust me with their votes on Nov. 5.
Peggy Lyons is the Democratic candidate for first selectman.
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