Saturday, March 28, 2015

My Picks for the 2015 Annual Town Election

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The polls opened just a few minutes ago. When I get my shoes on and make it down there, here's how I'm voting, from the bottom of the ballot up:

Alcohol License Ballot Question: "Shall the BOS be authorized to grant up to 5 additional license?"
I'm voting Yes.

Precinct 4 Town Meeting members for 3 years, vote for up to 4. I'm voting for 3:
Aimee Taberner
George Laite
Clarissa Rowe

The other 2 on the ballot haven't shown up much. If you're curious about the attendance records of Town Meeting members on the ballot this year from other precincts, I've written about that in my post 2015 Annual Town Election - Town Meeting Candidates.

Arlington Housing Authority for 5 Years; uncontested; I'm voting for Joseph Daly. Thanks Joseph for doing the job.

School Committee for 3 years, vote for up to 2. I'm voting for:
Jeffrey Thielman
Cindy Starks

Newcomer Alexis Moisand is hoping to unseat one of these 2 veteran incumbents. I believe they deserve to keep their jobs, and Alexis hasn't had a chance yet to show me that he has the experience and skills to do the job.

Assessor for 1 year to fill a vacancy; uncontested. I'm voting for Robert Greeley. Thanks for your service, Robert.

Assessor for 3 years, vote for 1. I'm voting for:
Kevin Feeley

His opponent, Stephen Harrington, is very smart and frequently raises interesting questions. If you observe town politics you also know that he has a reputation for not getting along with people. Not a good quality to have for this position.

Selectman for 3 years, vote for up to 2; uncontested. I'm voting for:
Steven Byrne
Joseph Curro

I will say that I did not vote for Steven Byrne 3 years ago. He was young and didn't have a record I could look at and determine that he had the qualifications to do the job. I've been pleased with the work he has done the last 3 years, and would vote for him this year if he did have an opponent.

Happy Voting Arlington!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Don't Vote This Year

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With the Town Election happening this Saturday my advice to the voters of Arlington is this:

Don’t vote for candidates you do not know would be good at the job.

Do of course turn out and vote. There aren't many contested open seats for town wide offices. As a result I think turnout will be especially low this year, but would love to discover that I’m wrong.

This year I’m interested in seeing what happens way, way down on the ballot in the Town Meeting races.

If voters approach their ballots under the false idea that filling in the full number of ovals allowed is the responsible thing to do, not a lot will change.

If though voters realize that the statement “Vote for not more than four” does not mean that they should vote for four as if they were cleaning up their dinner plates in sympathy with children elsewhere that were starving, and instead only cast votes for candidates they have learned will do the job, we could see some shifts in many precincts, and the removal of members that have failed to attend Town Meeting for - in some cases - years.

So my hope for this election is that voters fill in the ovals on their ballots *on purpose,* for good reasons.

I have compiled a spreadsheet showing attendance records of all members on the ballot this year, and posted it here.

I encourage people to look up who is on the ballot in their precinct, and make an informed choice.

This is also the first year voters can actually review how their Town Meeting members voted on articles in Town Meeting.

There are links at the bottom of this page that say :“Votes Utilizing Electronic Voting System.”

By finding what night the issue you are curious about was voted on here, that’s the link from “2014 ATM and STM Voting by Article,” you can look up the voting records for that night and see how your Town Meeting members voted.

For example, you can review whether or not your Town Meeting members voted to put the issue of adopting the Community Preservation Act before the town by following this link and looking at the column labeled “Article 22: ACCEPTANCE OF LEGISLATION/COMMUNITY PRESERVATION ACT”:

Transparency in the operations of our local government is slowly coming. As it does so the question becomes: will the voters take advantage of it?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

2015 Annual Town Election - Town Meeting Candidates

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This year's Town Election is earlier than usual: Saturday, March 28th.

When it comes to Town Meeting candidates, there is precious little information available to help someone make an educated choice.

To help with that, I've listed all the candidates for Town Meeting below, with information related to attendance at Town Meeting over the previous three years. Click here to read more about the issue of attendance at Town Meeting.

Until the implementation of electronic voting last year, trying to track how members voted on issues was next to impossible, as no records were kept on how an individual voted (except in the rare case of a roll call vote).

Despite the fact that electronic voting will provide you a record of how your member votes, I believe the bigger issue is still this: Does your Town Meeting member show up?

With that in mind, I encourage everyone to take some time this year, and cast votes for those candidates you trust to actually show up and participate in Town Meeting.

Voters can pick up to four Town Meeting candidates for the 3-year seats. There are a few precincts that also need to fill vacant seats that are less than 3-years. These are noted in the Seat column.

One column shows the percent of electronic votes incumbent members cast at last year's Town Meeting. We don't cast a uniform number of votes each night, so this number won't exactly mirror attendance. I've included it because when the percentage of sessions attended is a lot higher than the percent of electronic votes cast, it might indicate that this member made a habit of leaving early most nights.

If you are curious how members voted on specific issues last year, you can find that information behind the links named Votes Utilizing Electronic Voting System on the 2014 Annual Town Meeting page on the Town's website.

You will notice that the rows below are shaded with different colors.

Gray indicates that the seat is uncontested - there are not more candidates than open seats, so without an impressive write-in campaign, these people will be elected to Town Meeting this year.

Green indicates that there are more candidates than open seats for this race.

Rows without any highlighting represent seats where no one has turned in papers and there won't be a candidate listed on the ballot for this seat.

Candidates are listed in the order they will appear on the ballot.