The deadline for filing nomination papers for elected positions is 5:00PM on March 29th in the Town Clerk’s office. Some positions, like selectman, draw good resident interest while others, like town meeting member, do not.
A check with Town Clerk Deb Gremo last week showed a drought of town meeting candidates. All five precincts elect or reelect 8 members annually for a 3-year term, and then there are always a few unfinished terms due to resignation or death. By charter, each precinct must have 24 members for a total of 120 across the town. A quorum of 80 is needed to start each town meeting.
The current situation is:
Precinct 1: 8 members and one 2-yr. term; 3 incumbents.
Precinct 2: 8 members; 4 incumbents + 1 new candidate.
Precinct 3: 8 members and one 1-yr. term; 6 incumbents +1 new.
Precinct 4: 8 members and one 1-yr. and one 2-yr. term; 2 incumbents + 2 new.
Precinct 5: 8 members; 3 incumbents + 1 new.
Local government does not function without town meeting since their vote is required to pass a budget, transfer capital fund, approve by-law changes, and to borrow money amongst others. In recent years, meetings have proceeded quickly due to Auburn’s strong management team, a competent school department and a very efficient finance committee.
Being an elected town meeting member typically involves 2 evenings per year although special town meetings can be called for issues requiring a town meeting vote. Such is the case later this month when approval is needed to put a new roof on Pakachoag School. The Annual Town Meeting is in early May, and a special town meeting is held in the fall once the Commonwealth’s financial assistance is defined and the town budget can be finalized.
Incumbents do not have to take out new papers but must notify the Clerk of their intentions. New candidates must pick up nomination papers at the Clerk’s office and gather 10 signatures from registered voters in their precinct, a process that will likely take only an hour or so.
Town meeting members are critical for the town, and it is a great way to serve the community while learning a lot about local government. Please consider serving.