Charter Commission

The Charter Commission, elected by the voters of Amherst, is guided by State Law, MGL  c.43B. By law, we are charged with preparing a written document which establishes and defines the structure of the government for Amherst. This document, called a Charter, may create local offices, distribute powers, duties and responsibilities among local offices, and may establish and define certain procedures to be followed. Our work must be completed within 18 months of our election, and when completed, the final recommended Charter is submitted to the voters. If approved by the voters, the Charter would serve as Amherst's constitution.


At the December 12, 2016 meeting, the Charter Commission had a robust discussion of various Commissioners' proposals for Amherst's government structure. During the meeting, the Commission voted by a 5-4 margin to pursue a mayor-council form of government with robust citizen participation.

The Commission generally agreed that any proposed charter should include provisions for participatory budgeting, referendum, initiative and petition, and potential citizen zoning and planning measures. In addition, the Commission generally agreed that a community liaison officer is desirable. This position might include working to facilitate communication between the town and its residents, recruiting volunteers for town committees and boards, and instituting a leadership development program for elected offices.

The Commission also agreed to continue researching a system of town meeting government like that in Connecticut that includes a "first selectman" that has powers similar to what a mayor would, but is also part of a 3-person select board. The Commission would like to emphasize that tonight's vote was a straw vote that will allow it to move forward, but is not definitive of the ultimate structure it will end up proposing. We will be revisiting these votes in the coming weeks and months.

For those interested in learning more about participatory budgeting, check out the website You can also watch this video for a quick overview.

Town Meeting Presentation

The Charter Commission presented an update to Town Meeting on November 14, 2016 as part of Article 1. Click here to view the PowerPoint Presentation.

Stay Informed

We have created an email list in order to keep residents updated on what we're doing. Subscribe to it here. Also, connect with us on Facebook to keep updated.

Upcoming Meetings

All meetings at the Police Station Community Room, unless otherwise noted.

  • Thursday, January 19, 2017, 7:15pm
    • Discussion of the "best Town Meeting" form and comparison to currently proposed Council form
  • Wednesday, January 25, 2017, 7pm
    • Meeting with Michael Sullivan or South Hadley and Mayor Narkewicz of Northampton
  • Thursday, February 2, 2017, 7:15pm
  • Wednesday, February 8, 2017, 7pm
  • Thursday, February 16, 2017, 7:15pm

Find the complete Charter Commission meeting schedule here.

Collin Center DRAFT Timeline: Gives an overview of what portions of the Charter we will be discussing during certain weeks. Updated on January 11, 2017

Public Outreach

The Charter Commission welcomes input from the residents of the Town about Amherst and its values about Town government. During the upcoming months, there will be several opportunities to submit your comments, through public forums, hearings and meetings. A Working Group, consisting of Charter Commission members and members of the public, is currently working on scheduling listening workshops throughout town to gather more input and thoughts from the public.

New listening sessions have been scheduled for the spring. During these session, we will seek your input on the potential organization of the legislative and executive branches, along with the citizen participation mechanisms we have added into the draft charter.All sessions will be in the Jones Library's Woodbury Room.

  • Tuesday, February 14, 1-3pm
  • Tuesday, February 28, 1-3pm
  • Thursday, March 30, 7-9pm
  • Tuesday, April 11, 7-9pm

You may also submit input in two other ways:

  • Send an email to the entire Charter Commission by emailing
  • Complete the Public Input Form, by clicking here.

Comments received from the public by the Charter Commission can be viewed here.

Group Decision Making Process

Here is the link to a website Irma Gonzalez sent the Commission that discusses group decision making: "Making Group Decisions - Six Options". A number of residents have asked that we post the link.

Videographers Wanted

We are looking for many volunteers willing to attend our meetings and videotape them for ACTV. Please contact Irv Rhodes if you are willing to do so, as he is looking at arranging a schedule for the volunteers.
Year  Elected
Andy Churchill, Chair
Tom Fricke
Meg Gage
Nick Grabbe, Clerk
Mandi Jo Hanneke, Vice Chair
Irv Rhodes
Diana Stein
Julia Rueschemeyer
Gerry Weiss