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Amherst Town Board gives up bid to overturn downsizing referendum

It has taken months of teeth-gnashing and contentious bickering, but it appears the Amherst Town Board has finally come around – again – and the downsizing of its members from six to five is going to happen.

This downsizing issue has so many twists and turns, it can be hard to keep up. Residents voted overwhelmingly in a referendum three years ago to decrease the Town Board from seven members to five.

One board seat was eliminated when Barry A. Weinstein was elected supervisor, and the second seat was scheduled to be eliminated at the end of this year. But board members decided earlier this year that they didn’t like the outcome of the referendum after all.

The six members left on the board were getting along so well that Weinstein and the Republican majority argued that the board ought to stay at six. Moreover, they believed that voters would probably recognize and appreciate the blissful cooperation on the board, so board members scheduled a referendum to keep the previous referendum from taking full effect.

Of course, there should be no politically motivated do-overs. State Supreme Court Justice Tracey A. Bannister didn’t think Republicans should have another run at the size of the board, and she ruled earlier this month in favor of town Democrats who were trying to stop that second vote – what the Democratic chairman called an “upsizing” vote.

Republicans had threatened a legal challenge to the judge’s ruling, but the board members who fought so hard to keep things the same have changed their minds. Again.

The board voted not to mount a legal challenge, with Council Member Mark A. Manna, who actually proposed the attempt to block the downsizing before changing his mind, said: “We shouldn’t be wasting our time, energy and resources on this appeal. It’s just silly.”

Weinstein, who was in favor of the special election, agreed with Manna, who is running against Weinstein for supervisor, saying: “It’s not worth the money, and it’s not worth the time. I can live with the decision.”

The flip-flopping on the issue has been going on for years. Weinstein ran for office on a platform that included board downsizing, and Manna was once strongly against it.

That’s the wonderful thing about politics. Officials are willing to listen to the voice of the people after a judge orders them to.