The Town Council heard a proposal for how to fill the vacant District D Town Council seat, but could not make a vote due to an error during the subcommittee meeting held the previous week.
One of the rules changes made by the Governor impacting remote meetings requires all votes to be made by roll call. During the May 5 meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on District D Vacancy the group made a unanimous vote to recommend a process for filling the seat that became vacant when Ken Woodland had to resign to take a job that does not allow him to serve on the Council. However, the vote was not done by roll call — with each committee member being called upon and voicing their vote.
Town Attorney Mark Reich, from KP Law, said that the vote should have been made by roll call, and added that since the plan was not put on the May 11 Council Meeting’s agenda as an action item the Council might be in violation of the Open Meeting Law if the it took a vote to approve the plan.
Anthony Donato, the chair of the Ad Hoc Committee, said “I want to apologize for this inconvenience. It was a very lively meeting with a lot of input from Councilors and residents. We will attempt to meet as soon as possible to get this on a future agenda.”
The Ad Hoc Committee will meet on Monday, May 17 at 5:15 p.m. to continue the discussion of filling the District D vacancy.
On May 5, the Committee came up with a recommendation that would require certain things:
- Applicants must live in District D
- Applicants commit to not run for election for the District D seat in November 2021
- Those interested should send a resume, a cover letter explaining any past or current public
service and why he or she is interested in serving, and a maximum of endorsement letters
- Candidates will be interviewed at a future date
- The successful candidate must receive six votes, which is a requirement of the Town Charter
The Ad Hoc committee has not worked out the details of certain aspects of the process. The members discussed having Council President Mark Sideris review the applications and, depending on the number of applications, perhaps send the applicants for further vetting by the Ad Hoc Committee. If not, the Committee leaned toward having all applicants be interviewed by the full Council.
Other areas discussed were how to compile questions for the applicants (including reaching out to District D residents), whether to publish questions ahead of time, and should each candidate be asked the same questions. The committee also looked at if the interviews and Council deliberation should be held in public and whether to use ranked choice voting if multiple candidates meet the six vote threshold.
Not a big fan of the Council taking away someone’s right to run for the seat. Same as term limits. Not democracy to me!
This is stupid, applicants must commit not to run in an election within the next 6 months for the seat in question. What’s the point of wasting time and energy on this? Just hold the seat open until the election, what is the big deal here?
I agree with Fred. What’s the point of having Councilors-at-Large if they can’t cover any issues that come up in District D for a few months? Folks are already pulling papers for the fall election. Whoever wins can be sworn into office in November.
The interim councilor would serve on the Town Council, on at least three committees, the Charter Review Committee, and be expected t0 help with constituent issues. Plus, six councilors have to agree on the interim councilor. And then throw in an experiment with ranked-choice voting if there are multiple candidates. Total up the time and ask who will be up to speed on these topics to truly “serve” District D for potentially four months?
Full disclosure, I live in District C. But some folks that live in D feel this is bogus posturing on the part of some councilors. While the filling of a councilor seat vacancy is a process issue that should probably be addressed in the charter, to do a rush job with everything else that’s going on in town is a disservice to District D. At the very least the process is time consuming and unnecessary.
live from “D” as gannon stated a cambridge school election with ranked choice voting took 3 months to decide a winner, I know i’m not laughing with even the suggestion of ranked choice. not a fan of it never will be, then 6 votes on the council, please the clock is ticking. Hey Ainge want to move to the west end!