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Upton Selectmen Discuss Possible Change to Town Election Date

During a May 16 meeting, the Board of Selectmen began an initial discussion to possibly defer the date of the annual town election until after the town meeting.

"For many, many years, the town meeting was held on a Saturday after the Monday election," explained new Selectman Chairman Robert Fleming. "Well, now the town meeting is held on a Thursday after the Monday election."

Fleming explained because the two dates are within days of each other, he and Town Manager Robert Reed spoke to Town Clerk Kelly McElreath about possibly moving up the date of the election at the suggestion of residents and elected officials. "It's a lot of work to run an election on a Monday and then prep for the town meeting on a Thursday," he said.

At the suggestion of McElreath, the town election could instead be held on a Tuesday after the town meeting, "the most prominent day for elections in our country," said Fleming.

The other Selectmen agreed the change would be beneficial. "I actually think it's a very good idea," said Selectman Gary Daugherty, who remembered by elected last year on a Monday and then having to attend the town meeting just days later. "You're thrown into everything and don't understand why the Board (of Selectmen) voted for half the things they have." He also stated pushing the election up would allow the previous Board to finish the business they started from the year prior.

Newly elected Board member Stephen Matellian, concurred. "For myself, I just went through that process; moving from the Finance Committee to Board of Selectmen. It certainly makes sense to make the change. I think Mendon does it that way and many of the area towns do it."

Fleming stated when the date change had been brought up in the past he was somewhat resistant to it. "My only concern was that someone who was seeking the office of Board of Selectmen stands at the annual town meeting as chairman; do they use that as a forum? But other towns seem to do it successfully; I'm not adverse to it."

The Board agreed to have the Town Manager contact town counsel to discuss the bylaw change. If the measure moves forward, it will need to come before residents for a vote at a future town meeting.


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