Thinking of Running? Elected Town Offices and Town Caucus
An official town communication sent yesterday listed the elected positions that are up for grabs in this year’s Town Election on May 7. Well, not grabs exactly but with a well-thought out plan, you too can join the nearly 200 Weston residents who help make policy, develop and shape Town projects, and “give of their time and talents for the betterment of the community.” In this Owl, get to know the elected offices that are up for a vote this year–appointed positions to be covered in a future Owl.
Without bias, the Owl will say that Weston has the most amazing volunteers anywhere–the fact that all these folks put in countless unpaid hours is mind-boggling. Please note that the Owl is no longer on any town committee, and never held elected office. So I can have fun with this.
Let’s take a look at some of the elected offices coming up for nomination at Town Caucus on March 7 (more on this exciting event later in this post). This post does not contain the official job descriptions–for that, please see this guide for voters. The Owl has little publicly-available information on which of these commissioners and committtee members are running again. That’s part of the Whodunit…or Whowilldoit.
Select Board (1 position, 3 year term): The Select Board is the main executive decision-making branch for Weston — as a teeny tiny town, we do not have a mayor or paid city council. The Select Board (which in Weston has three members, one up for re-election every three years) calls town meetings, proposes budgets to the town meeting, sets public policy, calls elections, licenses businesses, sets certain fees, oversees certain volunteer and appointed bodies, and creates basic regulations. Whoo! That’s a lot. The renewing position is currently held by incumbent Laurie Bent, a first-term Member of the Select Board.
School Committee (2 positions, 3 year term): The School Committee is responsible for overseeing the annual school budget, developing school system policies, hiring and reviewing the performance of the school Superintendent and advocating for the school system with cittizens and the town government. These positions are currently held by Anita Ramen, Chair of the School Committee (a first term SC member) and Danielle Black who was appointed to fill a 1-year vacancy due to the resignation of another SC member. This is another committee that is harder than it looks.
Recreation Commission (2 positions, 3 year term): The Rec Commission develops and operates a variety of recreational programs for residents of all ages. Ummmm…no clue who is up for renewal. Lemme go look. Ah, Trevor McDonald who is first term Commissioner but has been on the Recreation Master Plan Committee (was the chair in fact while the Owl was on the committee) and Julie Johnstone, who will be stepping down after this, her first term.
Planning Board (1 position, 5 year term). The Planning Board is responsible for the review of land division as well as review of specific development proposals, and site visits and long zoom meetings. I am not sure how they get it all done. Five positions in total, one up for election. Position is currently held by Stephen Oppenheimer, who has had at least two terms but I have no confirmation on exact years.
Board of Assessors (1 position, 3 year term). The Board of Assessors is an elected body of five members responsible for estimating the fair market value of all real property in Weston. Paul Zorfass is the current holder of the position, and I have no further information there. My freaking interns have taken off early for Winter Break.
Board of Library Trustees (3 positions, 3 year term). The Board of Library Trustees is responsible for appointing the library director, determining library policy, overseeing the expenditure of funds, and submitting budget requests. One of the three positions is to fill a vacancy, the other two are held currently by Emily Hutcheson and Shaheen Parks.
Board of Health (1 position, 3 year term). The Board of Health is responsible for the promotion and protection of public health. This is done through education and enforcement of environmental, public, medical and mental health laws and regulations. The incumbent for this position is Laura Azzam, current Chair of the board.
Moderator (1 position, 1 year term). The Moderator presides at all Town Meetings and is also responsible for making appointments to a number of committees, incuding the Finance Committee. Gah! Mathy stuff! Okay, why is this only a one-year term? That seems short. Well, no one asked me. Hope you’ve got all your lawn signs ready to go again, Rip. Yes, position currently held by Rip Hastings, who is a two-time medal-winning, ummm, no, election-winning moderator.
Commissioners of Trust Funds (1 position, 3 year term). The Commissioners of Trust Funds develop investment philosophy and strategy for the investment of securities held in the town’s various trust funds. The current incumbent is Andrew Van Ogtrop.
Measurers of Lumber (3 positions, 1 year term). This is entirely a symbolic role. I wish to make it a Measurer of Trees to see how much they grow every year we DON”T CUT THEM. Again, no one asked. No clue who the MOLs are right now.
The duties and responsibilities of each office are described in this Guide for Voters (PDF).
What is the Town Caucus?
Weston uses the caucus process to nominate candidates to be placed on the ballot for the Annual Town Election. At this event, residents express interest in serving as an elected official. Weston voters in attendance will nominate the individual to run for that office and if more than one person is nominated to one seat, the attendees will cast votes for the nominee they want as the candidate. If the nominees receive enough votes, the individual(s) become the Caucus Nominee(s) and is/are placed on the Town Election Ballot.
The paragraph above is almost verbatim from the town communication. If you want a bit more color to it, read the Owl from last February. Just realize that last year was a special year because the pandemic changed the process.
This year’s Caucus will be held IN-PERSON!!! on Monday, March 7th, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. in the Weston Town Hall Auditorium. This is cool–this must be the first Caucus at the Town Hall since ummm 2018, maybe? It was closed for construction at one point so we were at the Library community room, then pandemic …and well, cool.
For More Information:
Office Responsibilities and Election Process – Visit the Town’s website at Weston.org/Caucus to learn more about the duties and responsibilities for each of the elected offices in Weston and more on the Town Caucus and election process. Residents interested in running for office must be a registered voter in Weston.
Attend a Meeting – Upcoming meetings of the elected and appointed boards/committees are posted to Weston.org/Meetings. All board/committee meetings are open to the public.
More Questions – If a resident has a question about the Town Election or the elected offices, contact the Town Clerk at 781-786-5010.