Town meeting delayed to Sat., May 8
A majority of the Board of Selectmen members support changing its name to “select board” and referring to those sitting on the board as “select board members.” The name change is subject to town meeting approval.
This week the board also voted in favor of recommending changing the term “chairman” to “chair” and terms such as “his” and her” to “their.”
Describing a potential name change to “select board” as a “bland step sidewise,” Selectman John Reilly earlier made a substitute motion to change the name “selectmen” to “town executive commission” and calling its members “commissioners.”
That motion did not pass, with all board members voting “no” except for Domenico Sestito and Reilly, who is considering offering that motion on the floor of town meeting.
“Wouldn’t that undermine the board?” board member Donna Pursel asked, to which Reilly responded that he would represent himself as a private citizen “and speak my mind.” He noted that board members are allowed to present a minority view at town meeting.
“The selectmen’s role is as an executive board,” Reilly said, in explaining his reasoning. “In the end, it’s not the name of the position that matters but what we do in that position.”
If town meeting voters approve, the language in the town charter and general bylaws would be changed accordingly.
This is the second time in three years that town meeting will consider a warrant article aiming to change the Board of Selectmen’s title to one that is gender-neutral.
At a special town meeting in February 2018, an article submitted by Women in Nantasket (WIN), seeking to amend the town bylaws by substituting the name “Board of Selectmen” with “Select Board” and the words “selectmen, selectman, selectwoman, or selectwomen” with “select board member(s),” was approved.
However, because there were questions about how to implement the changes, town officials sought the guidance of the state attorney general’s office. That office responded to the town’s inquiry with a decision of “no action because we have determined that [the gender-neutral warrant article] does not constitute a valid bylaw subject to our review and approval.”
A recommended name change to Select Board passed earlier in Cohasset and Scituate, with other communities also changing the reference to selectmen to another term.
“What we call ourselves is less important than the reason we want to make this change – to be more inclusive,” Chair Jennifer Constable said.
In other business at the meeting:
* Due to COVID-19 considerations, the board approved delaying town meeting from the usual first Monday of the month (May 3) to Saturday, May 8, on the turf field at Hull High School at 1 p.m. The rain dates are Saturday, May 15, or Sunday, May 16, at 1 p.m.
* The selectmen approved seeking the required special legislation that would allow the town to change the date of the annual town election from Monday, May 17, to Saturday, May 22, also due to the coronavirus pandemic.
* The board appointed Rachel Gilroy to fill a Community Preservation Committee vacancy and Samuel Campbell to an open seat on the Conservation Commission.