Vote against residency requirement

To the Editor:

First, a disclaimer: No taxpayers were harmed in the construction of this missive (nor will they be in the future).

The Bedford Town Council is unanimously requesting that you vote "Yes" on Article 3 to eliminate residency as a requirement of the town manager position.

A generation has passed since our charter was established in 1988 and great changes have occurred in our lives and our community. The need for geographic proximity has diminished dramatically due to technology advancements such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, text messaging, Twitter, Skype, email and the Internet, all of which have given us instant access to our jobs and families no matter the location.

The town manager should be chosen on the basis of their ability, not their address. The vast majority of municipalities with which Bedford competes in the labor market do not impose residency requirements. More pointedly, of 36 comparable communities, only five strictly require TM residency; the remaining 31 do not. In fact, of 918 employees of the town and school system, the only one currently required to live in Bedford is the TM.

Therefore, Bedford is substantially disadvantaged in recruiting, hiring and retaining well-qualified TM candidates because applicants do not want to take their families from their friends and schools and disrupt the social and economic pattern of their lives. This has been demonstrated time and time again in that since 2011 Bedford has had six different people occupying the office of the town manager.

Finally, the legal suits that befell Manchester and Seabrook portend potentially expensive litigation for Bedford should such a residency requirement be retained within the charter.

So please show up at the polls and vote "Yes" on March 8 on Article 3: Charter Amendment (the last item on your ballot).

Jim Scanlon
Chairman, Bedford Town Council