Ellen O'Brien-Cushman, Belmont's Town Clerk, circulated an e-mail this week to Town Meeting members reminding them about upcoming deadlines for getting on the ballot to run for Town Meeting. This message should be circulated as widely as possible.
One of the common fallacies with Town Meeting elections in Belmont is that one must wait to see whether there are "open" seats (i.e., if a current Town Meeting member is not running for re-election for some reason) before deciding whether to run. This is a "fallacy" because, in reality, an incumbent Town Meeting member has no "claim" on their seat. EVERY SEAT IS OPEN IN EVERY ELECTION recognizing that each precinct has only twelve seats per year that they elect.
A study I did just three years ago found that Belmont's Town Meeting did not reflect the demographics of Belmont. In particular, younger families with kids, non-homeowners, and folks who have recently moved into Belmont (whether they are renters or owners) are under-represented in Town Meeting. You can get that study here. The study is free, of course.
Here are the deadlines that Ellen noted in her e-mail this week:
- Nomination papers for Town Meeting Members and Town-wide offices will be available in the Town Clerk’s Office on Dec. 12. Nomination papers are due to the Town Clerk on behalf of the Board of Registrars by 5 p.m., Feb. 12, 2013. Nomination papers for Town Meeting must contain at least 25 signatures of precinct voters to have the name on the ballot; to make sure you have "enough," you should get a few more than 25 on your nomination papers.
- Please mention to Friends or neighbors that you know who are interested in running for elected office in Belmont that they should refer to the “Running for Elected Office in Belmont” link:
The Annual Town Meeting will begin April 29, 2013 at 7 p.m. at Belmont High School auditorium. For planning purposes;
- Non-Financial Articles: at Belmont High School, April 29, May 1, 6 and 8
- Financial Articles: at Chenery Middle School, June 3 and 5
- All sessions begin at 7 p.m.
I would encourage everyone, irrespective of age, income, political affiliation, parental status, political ideology, or otherwise (I'm trying to cover it all there!) not only to consider running for Town Meeting, but also to talk to friends and neighbors about running for Town Meeting.
Ellen, and her staff, have done a wonderful job in making Town Meeting nomination papers available early in the process this year, well before the holidays. This year, there really is ample time to talk-up the benefits of participation in Town Meeting and to generate interest and activity in Town Meeting elections.
Town Meeting Member