(EDITOR'S NOTE: The following was submitted by State Rep. Tom Conroy.)
Yesterday, the Joint Committee on Election Laws amended and approved H.4471, “An Act Amending Chapter 131 of the Acts of 1994 to Increase Board of Selectmen Membership in the Town of Sudbury.” The Committee vote approving the revised bill occurred two days after the November 27 hearing on the bill, at which several Sudbury residents testified, many for and many against the bill.
The revised bill requires a ballot vote in Sudbury on whether to increase the board of selectmen from three members to five at the next regular annual town election, which will occur in March 2013. According to the revised bill, if a majority of voters favor the increase, an election for two additional selectmen must occur no later than the subsequent annual town election, which will occur in March 2014. The language of the bill allows for a special election during 2013, initiated either by citizen petition with the requisite number of signatures, or by vote of the selectmen.
The new bill, H4528, provides all of Sudbury citizens with an opportunity to vote yea or nay on the idea of increasing the board of selectmen from three to five members, which was an appeal made at the hearing on November 27. Over the course of the next four months, the residents of Sudbury and town officials will have considerable time to research, deliberate, and debate the merits of the idea of expanding the board.
The bill also provides an immediate opportunity for Sudbury’s selectmen to commit to scheduling a special election during 2013, and thereby put the acrimony of the past several months behind them and the town. In so doing, the selectmen could demonstrate a statesmanlike acknowledgement of the will of many people in town to move forward sooner rather than later, while preserving the legacy of their considerable good work over the past several years on behalf of all residents of Sudbury.
With this approval by the Joint Committee on Election Laws, the bill continues to progress swiftly through the legislative process. It is likely that H4528 will be referred to the House Steering and Policy Committee, then hopefully move directly to the House calendar, so that the bill can be approved by the House in the next two weeks, and the Senate immediately thereafter. The end of the legislative session is December 31.