Changes to Selectboard on Northfield’s next election ballot

Staff Writer
Published: 11/19/2019 6:23:12 PM

NORTHFIELD — Residents will vote on whether to change the number of seats on the Selectboard from three to five in next May’s election.

The change was originally recommended by the Town Governance Study Committee on the grounds that it would bring more diversity of opinions to the Selectboard, would distribute the workload more broadly and would make it easier to gather a quorum (the number of members needed for a meeting to be legal).

The proposed change passed by an Annual Town Meeting vote earlier this year, sending it on to the state Legislature for approval. Bill H.3907, which would enact the change, passed through the House of Representatives on Aug. 5, according to Town Administrator Andrea Llamas. As of Nov. 4, the Senate was in its third and final reading of the bill.

“We should be hearing in relatively short order that it has passed the Senate,” Llamas told the Selectboard during its most recent meeting. “Then it moves on, going to caucus and then the election from there.”

The final step in the process is for voters to approve the change during the May 2020 election. The potential new members would run for seats during the same election.

“If it fails in the election, it fails altogether,” Selectboard Chair Alex Meisner said.

Selectboard member Heath Cummings questioned the format of the election cycle, which would see candidates running for five seats, while it’s possible the change to a five-member board will not be approved by voters. Llamas stated that it’s still necessary for them to run, even while the seat they run for may not be approved.

If the change passes, the two new seats have to be filled, Llamas said. The Selectboard quorum would become three, and it could never hold a meeting with two members as it can now. Nobody can appoint a Selectboard member either, Llamas noted; rather, they must join by winning during a special election to fill any vacant seats.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264.




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