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LWV-Needham Consensus Meeting
Thursday, May 20 @ 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm
At its May 28, 2020 Annual Meeting, the membership of the League of Women Voters of Needham approved a new study: Needham’s Elected Boards and Officers. The goal of the study is to make an objective assessment of the elected boards and offices in order to educate ourselves and the public and to consider changes that could be made to improve the work of the boards and officers.
We formed a study committee comprised of 12 League members. The Study Committee conducted the following research:
- Compared Needham’s elected boards to those in similar Massachusetts towns
- Reviewed statutory governance of boards and offices
- Analyzed board and office election history for the past 30 years
- Interviewed elected officials and others (45 of 53 elected officials)
The Study Committee has prepared a Study Guide to facilitate discussion of the Consensus Questions during the Consensus Meeting. The Study Guide will be sent to members who register for the Consensus Meeting.
Based on the results of the Consensus Meeting, the League of Women Voters will draft a set of positions that the membership will vote on at our Annual Meeting. These positions can then be used as a basis to advocate in the future.
The League of Women Voters of Needham is addressing this topic out of an interest in our town’s government. The town may consider changes sometime in the future, and the League will be ready with our positions obtained after study and the input of our membership through the consensus questions below.
1. Running for office in Needham
QUESTION 1A Should information that helps residents decide whether they are suitable candidates for elected boards and other positions be available on the town website?
QUESTION 1B If a resident is interested in getting involved in town government, should there be a web portal for learning about the various options?
QUESTION 1C Should the town website contain information on 1) who has taken out nomination papers for a town election, 2) who has taken out and returned papers for a town election, and 3) who the final candidates are?
2. Composition of town boards
QUESTION 2A Should boards consider ways to involve additional residents in order to develop a pipeline for future board membership?
QUESTION 2B Should the town ensure that openings in town offices that will be on an upcoming ballot are widely publicized, including to town organizations involving people of diverse age, race, gender, and socio-economic status?
3. Board use of remote meeting options
QUESTION 3A Should board meetings continue to be conducted exclusively remotely?
QUESTION 3B Should board hearings continue to be conducted exclusively remotely?
QUESTION 3C Should board members be allowed to join an in-person meeting or hearing remotely and fully participate in the discussion and voting?
QUESTION 3D Should all board meetings or hearings be available on cable TV, via videoconferencing, or other platforms, in real-time, for the public to observe but not participate?
QUESTION 3E Should video recordings of all board meetings or hearings be available after meetings?
4. Contacting elected officials
QUESTION 4A Should contact information in addition to mailing address be provided for all elected board members and elected officials on the town website?
QUESTION 4B Should contact information in addition to mailing address be provided for Town Meeting Members on the town website?
5. Appointing offices and boards rather than electing
QUESTION 5A Should the Town Clerk be appointed by the Town Manager?
QUESTION 5B Should the Constables be appointed?
QUESTION 5C Should the Board of Assessors be appointed?
QUESTION 5D Should the Trustees of Memorial Park be appointed?
QUESTION 5E Should the Trustees of the Needham Library be appointed?
QUESTION 5F Should the Board of Health be appointed?
QUESTION 5G Should the Planning Board be appointed?
QUESTION 5H Should the Commissioners of Trust Funds be appointed?
QUESTION 5I Should the Park and Recreation Commission be appointed?
6. A Systemic Review
QUESTION 6A Should the town undertake a full review of all elected officers and elected and appointed boards?