The Marblehead Select Board has a very unique service format — a one-year term. No other select board or school committee we know of has a one-year term. Most towns have a three-year term for a reason. It improves governance and builds commitment. Article 44 proposes moving to a three-year term to do just that while maintaining cherished traditions.
Many tend to think of the Select Board as a legislative body, but it is an executive body, as the Board functions collectively as a mayor. When we think of any executive position – be it mayor, governor, or president – they are always multiyear terms. Why? So that long term strategies, initiatives, plans, and sub-committee leadership can be developed carefully and thoughtfully over an extended period of time.
We want our Select Board to focus on running the Town and not running for reelection. Presently, in any given 12-month period, a Select Board candidate will have run two campaigns. Think about that. Twice in 12 months, three times in 24 months. Planting lawn signs instead of working on budgets!
Moving to a three-year term would align with the School Committee and other select boards in the area. In any year, one or two seats would be up for election, hence the term “staggered”. This allows for an experience base to remain as new people come on board. Would we really want a freshman class of five Select Board members, year after year, every year? No, we would not.
Some like the one-year term so we can, quote, “throw the bums out.” But frankly, today’s Marblehead voters are a sophisticated bunch with social media and internet research capabilities that were unheard of even a few years ago. Also, with a smaller field, it allows voters a chance to focus on individual candidates so as not to let the “bums” in to begin with.
Town Government in the year 2023 is complicated stuff. We have some huge issues in front of us, including ARPA projects, structural deficits, cash management, and rebuilding a crumbling infrastructure of neglected roads, sidewalks, buildings, and IT systems. We need people committed to three years of learning, listening and leadership. We need committed leadership for the long haul.
Marblehead has a long history of preserving tradition while using Yankee ingenuity to keep up with the times. We have preserved Abbot Hall, Fort Sewall, and the old Town House, yet kept up with the times by adding handicapped accessibility, energy efficiency, and even bathrooms! Our Town Meeting now features projectors and PowerPoint presentations – unheard of in 1649. The very first Select Board was a group of seven members, all men with a one-year term. No women allowed at Town Meeting. We have progressed very nicely to a group of five men and women with Zoom calls and a town administrator. Now it’s time for another tweak to make the one-year term three years!
One final note: This year’s election will go on as usual with a one-year term. The transition will start with a one-time election transition format to set up the stagger. After that, the elections would look just like the School Committee or other boards.
We urge you to vote YES for article 44 and preserve tradition and improve democracy!
2 Mound Road
Marblehead MA 01945