Town Officials Run Uncontested

Amy Mevorach
Issue Date: 
March, 2019
Article Body: 

On March 26, the Town of Natick will hold an election for positions on the Board of Selectmen, the School Committee, the Planning Board, Recreation and Parks Commission, the Board of Assessors, the Board of Health, as well as the Moderator, Natick Housing Authority, Town Clerk, and Constable, where candidates are up for re-election. All candidates are running uncontested.
Amy Mistrot, former chairman of the Board of Selectmen, is vacating her position after one year to shift her focus from municipal responsibilities to meeting professional and educational goals. Karen Adelman-Foster is the candidate who is running to complete Mistrot’s term.
In an uncontested election, should Natick residents show up at the polls? “I always encourage people to vote,” said Mistrot. “The decisions you make in the town election have the most intimate impact on your daily life. At least you should know who is serving on your behalf.”
“I’m a firm believer that contested races make better government,” said Diane Packer, Natick Town Clerk, whose name is on the ballot. “It does require that people participate to be successful.”
For residents who want to become more active in town government, Mistrot recommends beginning with committee work or running for Town Meeting, which she says is a relatively low commitment. “There are lots of ways to participate.” The Town Meeting is the legislative branch of town governement and runs 5-8 sessions in spring and fall from 7:30 to about 10 PM. Mistrot began her political engagement as a Town Meeting member in 2006, was elected to School Committee in 2009, served a year on the Board of Selectmen beginning in 2017. The Board of Selectmen, she says, is not an entry level position. “It’s not possible to jump onto without prior engagement,” such as Town Meeting or the Finance Committee.
One of Mistrot’s priorities as Chair of the Board of Selectmen was to shorten the meetings, which regularly run past 11 PM and sometimes past midnight on Monday nights. Mistrot expressed respect for the Board members who are willing and able to make the time commitment of meetings and additional interim work. “There is so much the board needs to engage in. They make some pretty impactful decisions.”
Mistrot understands the demands of a busy life, having worked full time and had children at home while holding office. “It’s one of the things I love about Natick,” she said, referring to the high level of involvement in activities, teams, and volunteer work that is common among residents. She encourages people to pay attention to the issues, not just the elections. The Board of Selectmen’s Public Speak policy allows for anyone to come to the meeting and raise an issue or concern. A court ruling in November, 2018, confirmed that any infringement on Public Speak is a first amendment violation. The Selectmen respond to requests for agenda items via email: [email protected].
In addition to the candidates, there will be one question on the ballot, and that will be a proposal to increase the number of voters’ signatures required to petition the Board of Selectmen to insert an article into a town meeting warrant. The increase would be from ten voters to 100 registered voters.