Voters may get a second chance to expand the Board of Selectmen

When voters considered the proposal to move to a town manager style of government at Town Meeting last spring, the reaction was decidedly mixed. When the measure ultimately failed, the proposal to expand the Board of Selectmen from three to five members failed along with it. But it looks like voters may get another chance to consider that change.

The Town Manager Ad Hoc Committee voted unanimously last night to ask the Board of Selectmen to put an article on the warrant for a special town meeting this winter that would expand the board from three to five members. The Metrowest Daily News reports on their reasoning:

“Right now we have three middle-aged white men on the board who have somewhat similar outlooks,” ad hoc member and selectmen Chairman John Rooney said. “A little bit of diversity (would be) a good thing.”

Rooney and other members said having five rather than three members would allow for more expertise on the board and also spread out the workload.

“The communication, I think, would improve, and the flow of information would improve,” said Rooney. He said having additional members able to be liaisons to other boards would also likely help those relationships.

Also enhanced, he said, would be the ability of selectmen to speak with each other. Under current state law, two selectmen can’t talk about town business outside of a meeting, he said, which makes it difficult for new selectmen to get the lay of the land.

When we were talking about the town manager legislation in advance of Town Meeting last spring, a number of you said while you weren’t comfortable with the idea of a strong town manager, you would support expanding the Board of Selectmen.

So tell me, would you be inclined to support such a measure now? Or do you think having a bigger board would cause more problems than it would solve? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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11 years ago

I like that Mr. Rooney seems to be always looking to the future and not the past. I watch every board meeting on tv and I have been very impressed with his preparation and how he gets right to the point and then makes a decision. I did not vote for him when he ran for selectman because I did not know him. Now that I do and have seen how he approaches this position, I think our town has greatly benefited. I hope we have not beaten him up too much that he decides not to run for reelcetion. He will have my vote next time.

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