Our Opinion: Hinsdale voters take a positive path

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Is Hinsdale on the path to political responsibility? The results of the annual town meeting and election offer reasons for optimism.

The town meeting vote to hire a town administrator has symbolic value beyond the benefits of bringing in a professional to help the town run efficiently. Opponents claimed this was an effort to take power from elected officials, a groundless assertion that spoke to the knee-jerk obstructionism of cynics similar to that of Washington D.C. Republicans. An administrator may pull the town out of its insular shell, getting it to join neighbors in worthy projects, such as working with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission in addressing the Kinder-Morgan pipeline plan.

Laurel Scialabba, who was elected to the Select Board Saturday, was an advocate of hiring an administrator, which her opponent was not. She comes across as a pragmatist willing to work with everyone in town and avoid the cliques and grudges that undermine the community.

The failure of a parking bylaw transparently directed at the husband of Select Board Chairwoman Bonnie Connor to pass also attests to the desire of voters to move beyond petty personality politics. While advocates claimed the bylaw was about public safety, its specific tailoring revealed it to be about harassing John Conner, who parks his flatbed truck in front of the couple's Main Street home, where it creates a tight fit but not a hazard. The defeat of this bylaw led to the early departure of obstructionists, and ultimately a modest celebration of democracy's triumph by those who remained to the end.

The behavior of a spiteful, mean-spirited minority in Hinsdale has made the town a Berkshire laughingstock and certainly persuaded many that the town is a place to be avoided. Responsible residents must remain vigilant, but maybe better days are coming.

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