At this meeting, we spoke with local government leaders from the Amherst Charter Commission. The purpose for this was to enable very low income or homeless citizens voicing their concerns to elected government leaders. The meeting included many interesting concepts and debates. One of major elements discussed was whether we wanted to keep the current town meeting/manager form of government or switch to a mayor/city council system. There were many interesting perspectives given about how there must be more transparency between the system of government.
The most poignant part of the meeting was listening to the people voice their stories. We heard heart wrenching stories from people about how they managed to survive in very difficult circumstances. There was also a very fruitful discussion on how to make government aid like food stamps and social security more easily accessible, and how to make government more transparent. Additionally, we discussed how the government can work on providing housing that is more affordable to its citizens instead of just investing in building luxury homes, and on providing public transportation.
Altogether the meeting was very productive. It was an enlightening exchange of ideas that made us very proud of our democracy!