By John Anderson
With just two weeks left until the April 1st deadline to return nomination papers many offices lack candidates, primarily for elected town meeting members.
Town meetings are an essential part of local government, and Auburn uses an elected rather than open town meeting. Each of the town’s five precincts has 24 elected members, and eight seats come up each year for election to a 3-year term. Additional seats may be vacated due to resignations or death.
Town meetings are necessary to approve the budget, authorize spending, and authorize borrowing among many other vital functions. With 120 total members, a quorum of 80 is needed to open a town meeting. This is sometimes difficult.
During the average year, members are expected to be at the annual town meeting in May and the special town meeting in the fall when the budget is finalized after getting confirmed state aid numbers. The total time commitment is around 10 hours per year.
FY2015 has been one of those exceptions when four special town meetings will occur before the annual meeting. This was driven by the land purchase off Southold Road, the By-law changes, and the accelerated repairs at two schools.
As of yesterday, Precinct 1 has 2 incumbents and 1 new candidate for 8 seats; Precinct 2 has 4 incumbents for 8 seats and 3 new candidates for 4 unexpired term seats; Precinct 3 has 5 incumbents and 3 new candidates for 8 seats and 1 new candidate for an unexpired 2-year term; Precinct 4 has 4 incumbents and 2 new candidates for 8 seats; and Precinct 5 has 3 incumbents and 1 new candidate for 8 seats.
In the past, many town meeting members have been elected as write-in candidates, and that may be only by a single vote.
New town meeting candidates only have to gather ten signatures within their precinct. Incumbents require no further signatures. This is a great opportunity to actively participate in local government with a limited time commitment.