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Town Council to discuss election changes

Tonight at 7 p.m.

GREENFIELD — Town Council will discuss possible changes to election dates and how long officials serve in town government at its regular monthly meeting tonight beginning at 7.

The full council will discuss lengthening the terms of mayor, town councilors and School Committee members to four years, or shortening them to two years.

Councilors will also discuss changing the date of annual town elections from June to November and holding them biennially, in odd-numbered years, instead of every year.

At-large Councilor Mark Wisnewski said the change to biennial elections should happen because Greenfield is now considered a city, instead of a town, and cities hold elections every other years, opposite state and federal elections.

The changes have been proposed by the town clerk’s office in an effort to save the town money and save the clerk’s office time.

The full council is expected to vote on the issues in July.

According to Wisnewski, the reasons for proposing the change include the town saving up to $30,000 during the years the town doesn’t hold an annual election. He said it would also allow the clerk’s office to concentrate on other projects during the off years.

Some councilors have said they believe holding elections every two years would increase competition for different council and committee seats.

In the past couple of years, councilors have run unopposed for their seats on Town Council.

If the council votes changes, the town’s annual elections would be held in November and if a preliminary elections was needed, it would be held no less than six weeks prior to the annual elections.

The town is reimbursed by the state and federal governments for their elections, which would be held in even-numbered years.

Town Clerk Maureen Winseck has also suggested that terms of the mayor, town councilors and School Committee members be lengthened to four years, but some believe they should be reduced to two years.

School Committee member Francia Wisnewski, wife of the town councilor, said she’d like to see the terms be reduced to two years. She said state representatives serve for two years and seem to get a lot done during that time.

Wisnewski said he will vote for change, one way or the other, but hasn’t decided whether he prefers two- or four-year terms.

If the council votes to make changes, the first elections under the new schedule would be held in November 2015, so the expiration of Mayor William Martin’s current term would be extended to Dec. 31, 2015, and a new mayor would begin his or her term on Jan. 1, 2016.

New two- or four-year terms would begin Jan. 1, 2016, and if a vacancy were to occur before the end of the term for which the mayor was elected, a special election would be held within 90 days of the date of vacancy.

Charter amendments will need to be made before any changes go into effect.

The council meeting will be held in the studio in Greenfield Community Television, 393 Main St.

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