As we’d all expect, both the town election and Town Meeting will be delayed this year. Town elections will be held June 6th from 8AM to 8PM and the town clerk’s office is publicising ways that any voter can use a mail-in absentee ballot. Town Meeting itself will also be delayed until after the election.
Town Meeting will be held June 15th, 2020, 6:30 p.m. at Town of Arlington High School Football Stadium at W. A. Peirce Field. Rain dates of June 17 or June 22.
Major Town Meeting Agenda Changes Due To Coronavirus
The delay is not the only change to Town Meeting this year. Given the uncertainty around large gatherings, the Town Moderator is cutting down the agenda to the most important items, and arranging most warrant articles into consent agendas, to ensure critical articles are passed while minimizing risks due to the in-person gathering. The Town Moderator lays out the plan here:
As for the Warrant itself, it is envisioned that we will only take up necessary Financial Articles, including Budgets, Capital Budgets, Bonding Articles, CPA and CDBG. These would be handled with a series of consent agenda votes. The Redevelopment Board is expected to vote at its next meeting that it will not be pursuing any of its zoning articles and the Select Board is likewise expected to vote at its next meeting to move No Action on all of its nonfinancial Articles.
This means that all citizen-provided “Ten Registered Voter” warrant articles will be consented as “No Action”. The Moderator is working with town government to ensure that any citizen articles can be directly carried forward to our next Town Meeting, along with various other town committee articles that will be deferred as well.
Town Meeting Process Changes
Another important change is the switch to providing materials electronically before the meeting, as the Town Moderator notes:
I am currently anticipating requiring that all Board, Commission and Committee reports are to be submitted in written form and electronically distributed to the Town Meeting Members prior to the meeting for questions and comments. Questions and comments from the TMM, as a well as any proposed amendments, will also be required to be submitted in advance so that written responses can be provided and distributed in advance.
Similarly, the Town Moderator is creating a Moderator’s Committee to research how to legally hold parts of the meeting process in a virtual manner, so stay tuned for more details to come of how the meeting will work in practice. Many thanks to the Town Moderator and town boards for cooperating on all of these issues, and working with the state to ensure changes are legally feasible.
It’s clear that this summer’s Town Meeting will look very different than traditional meetings! I hope to be there representing the 12 Precinct, but in any case, I’ll work to update my annotated meeting draft warrant soon.
The Town Moderator previously posted the formal recess and continuation of Town Meeting until May 27th, and has now formally recessed and continued to 15 June. MA state town meeting laws are complex, so the meeting can’t simply be postponed; only continued by 30 days at a time. The moderator has previously stated they plan to re-continue the meeting again, with a final date in mid-June.