The Chelmsford Board of Selectmen voted unanimously on Monday night to keep its town election and town meeting on their regularly scheduled days, April 2 and April 29, respectively.
When Governor Deval Patrick announced the dates for the Massachusetts special U.S. Senate election, he allowed for cities and towns across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to reschedule their elections to align with the April 30 primary election.
Boards of Selectmen and City Councils across the state are responsible for making this decision on their own.
Chelmsford’s board looked to Town Clerk Onorina Maloney to answer any questions about the logistics of changing the dates.
Maloney stated that she and the town were ready and able to accommodate a change, but did not prefer either outcome.
She pointed out some potentially positive effects from moving the election back stating that the town could save about $8,000 from consolidating the two election days.
“There could be increased voter turnout, less voter fatigue, and voters would only come out one day instead of two days,” Maloney pointed out.
Board chairman Jon Kurland addressed the issue of cost stating, “I’m fully confident that the state auditor, and the letter we received in our packages today seems to indicate, that the few thousand dollars it would cost us initially, we will undoubtedly be reimbursed by the state.”
Board member Pat Wojtas was the first to express an opinion. “I’m opposed to changing the dates,” she said.
“We’re in the middle of a campaign,” she pointed out. “Maybe if we had discussed this three months ago, it might be a little bit different.”
Fellow board member James Lane echoed the sentiment.
“I know [town meeting representatives] schedule their time off with their families and stuff like that around town meeting,” he said. In fairness to those representatives, the board passed a motion to keep the originally scheduled dates.
A town meeting representative pleaded to the board during open session that she would not be able to represent her fellow residents if the date was pushed back.
Cities and towns from every corner around the Commonwealth are faced with the same dilemma.
“There are a lot more compelling arguments to keep it the same day,” board chairman Jon Kurland concluded.
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