Article 44 seeks to change the Select Board terms from a one-year term to a three-year staggered term. The Marblehead Current endorsement editorial, “Time for a Change,” on April 25, articulated perfectly the essential arguments in favor of a vote yes on Article 44.
For good reason, no other towns have executive boards that operate with one-year terms. Sometimes being the outlier ought to make us reflect more critically on whether it really makes sense to do things the same way, just because we always have.
Three-year terms could lead to a more competitive election and a more dynamic board. It could cause more individuals to consider serving, who might have diverse perspectives or different skills that may be needed, candidates who might be open to approaching and solving old problems with new ideas. We also might draw more candidates who are forward-thinking and can anticipate issues.
Those who have work commitments, perhaps a commute and/or young families, are not inclined to sign on for running two campaigns in a year. More citizens would also step forward to serve if they were competing with one or two incumbents, rather than five. In fact, we recently saw this happen when 14 candidates tried for two open seats.
We are facing serious financial problems, as well as issues of affordable housing, infrastructure and protecting our beautiful coastal town against climate change. Some good planning has been done, but now it’s time for more cohesive and strategic planning to bring those plans to fruition. We require leadership that can build consensus around our goals, while increasing accountability and transparency in governance.
Select Board members who volunteer to serve the town should be able to focus on the challenges of the job, rather than having to face another election in a matter of months. Article 44 is an important step toward improving town government. – Renee Ramirez Keaney, Beverly Avenue