The Andover Select Board unanimously accepted the Town Governance Study Committee’s recommendation to retain its open town meeting form of government Monday, but left the door open for significant changes, including electronic voting by attendees.
“There’s nothing stopping us from [revisiting the issue and] making additional changes after we make these reforms,” Select Board Member Melissa Danisch said.
The select board is in the process of adopting a framework to review and implement the Town Governance Study Committee’s recommendations. Last month, committee members told the select board it unanimously voted to recommend retaining open town meeting after lengthy discussion.
Earlier this month, former Andover Select Board and Finance Committee member Richard T. Howe called on the current select board to ask voters for their opinion on whether Andover should continue with its current open town meeting. Howe suggested a ranked-choice, nonbinding ballot question where voters would rank their preferred form of local government.
“One of the things we recognized at the outset…is changing your government is a big step. That is a really big thing to do. It affects not only the government of the town, but the culture of the town,” Vice Chair Dara Obbard said. “So we determined early on we would most likely not recommend doing it unless we could definitely say other forms of government were going to be better.”
Clerk Annie Gilbert said she was “not ready to give up on open town meeting” and suggested the reforms suggested by the Town Governance Study Committee could address some complaints about the current form of government, including low participation.
“Even if it’s a nonbinding ballot referendum, I don’t think ranked-choice voting is enough to provide adequate feedback on what is a substantial change,” Gilbert said. “If we follow that path to its conclusion, it’s not going to give us much information. I think it’s more important that a committee, like the one we just had, does a deep-dive into the issue.”
Remote town meeting not allowed under state law.
More coverage of Monday’s Select Board meeting:
- Andover Adopts Town-Wide 25 MPH Speed Limit
- Select Board Notebook: No Decision On Verizon Wireless Equipment