What Sudbury residents have recently proposed in a petition to the State Legislature is a change to the composition of our Board of Selectmen from three members to five. This is a very simple change that provides an incremental increase in the range and depth of experience, capability and combined intelligence of the "Chief Executive Function" of our Town.
The change does not create conflict with our 28-year-old Home Rule Charter. It does not change the structure of our government. It does not change the powers or the duties of the Town. It does not change the Legislative Branch or the "Chief Executive Function" (BOS). It does not change the manner in which any member of Town Government is elected or appointed and it does not change any term of office. It does not change the administrative organization and it does not change our general provisions.
Some residents have questioned if increasing the number of Selectmen would create unintended consequences with our bylaws. Our current bylaws speak in terms of quorum, majority and unanimous. These terms are independent of whether there are three or five selectmen.
Once again, there is no conflict.
As validated by the overwhelming positive vote at Special Town Meeting, most residents understand there are significant opportunities for better governance in the change from three to five Selectmen. There is the opportunity for more informed debate among the BOS and, therefore, better understanding of issues by the residents.
There is the opportunity for increased engagement of the BOS with residents. There is the opportunity for increased engagement of the BOS with town committees, and there is improved conflict management.
If a selectman is conflicted and must recuse himself, as has frequently happened in our past, we will no longer be left with two dissenting opinions and stalemate within the Board of Selectmen. Town business can continue based on meaningful debate and majority rule.
As former President Bill Clinton recently said: “It is all in the arithmetic.” Five good citizens can do more than three.