Friday, November 17, 2006
Selectmen review recent election
Speaking with the Board of Selectmen at their November 14 meeting, Town Clerk Charlene Hinton noted over 300 volunteer hours were required to make the recent Town Meeting and Elections "a rousing success." Turnout in the elections was 74% of Carlisle's registered voters. About 2,500 people voted, and the process was smooth. She noted coverage in the Mosquito helped, as she saw many voters "clutching their Mosquitos with the ballots marked." Volunteers worked until 3 a.m. counting the state ballot, and she apologized that election results could not be posted immediately on the town web site because a computer was down.
Why playing fields on ballot?
Several people expressed confusion that the playing field questions appeared, even though these initiatives had failed at Town Meeting. Hinton noted that once an election is called, it must go forward, regardless of the Town Meeting vote. Selectman Doug Stevenson clarified that the Town Meeting vote is actually different from the Town Election; the first authorizes the debt, and the second allows the debt to be excluded from the Proposition 2-1/2 limitations. There is no need for an election if the debt authorized at Town Meeting is within those limits.
Stevenson also said that some towns, such as Concord, don't call an election until the Town Meeting is completed. However, he noted there is not necessarily a tie between the two, and an Election vote can apply to a subsequent Town Meeting. At times Carlisle has held the Election first to give direction to Town Meeting. However, in most cases, Town Meeting is seen as a chance to educate voters before the elections.
Other areas of confusion included absentee ballots, which some voters thought could be picked up and delivered to home-bound residents, but must be requested in advance. John Ballantine said that the medical marijuana question was a surprise as it was not covered in the Mosquito. No one knew the source or how it came about. The question about selling beer and wine in Carlisle was on the state ballot, and this seemed counter-intuitive to many. This question will appear once more on the 2008 ballot before it becomes permanent.
Playing fields a dead issue
Stevenson noted that, regarding the playing fields, "With 74% of registered voters weighing in, that was a true vote on that particular issue." He called it "a dead issue in the short term, given what we've seen." Tim Hult expressed his disappointment, noting it was a good plan, in the right place, with a documented need. "Now in the short term, it's not going to happen." However, Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie held out hope that since "the need is still there" the Recreation Committee might rebound with a less extensive plan.
Stevenson noted that Concord is advancing with their ball field plan, and now that Carlisle won't be a ball field contributor, will almost certainly request financial support from us. He added, "Let's see how (Carlisle) residents like contributing to ball fields 20 minutes away rather than 5 minutes away." He noted that many people he spoke to, including some with kids in sports, expressed concern that spending on schools should take priority over ballfields and believes private fundraising should be part of any new plan.
© 2006 The