I was surprised to read some of Selectman Robert Pepler’s comments in last week’s article entitled “Selectman Informally Queries Residents on De-organizing Upton.”
Of particular note is Pepler’s statement that a lot of good people don’t want to run for office in Upton. At the beginning of October 2012, in a special election, Pat Kenyon was elected to the office of Selectman in a landslide vote. Supporters of Ms. Kenyon speak freely of her honesty and integrity. Her election also, to my knowledge, marked the first time in the town’s history that the board would be comprised of a women’s majority. Unfortunately, due to a technicality in the posting of the warrant for the election, Ms. Kenyon has not been seated as elected.
According to Selectman Pepler, another special town meeting was not called because “we did not want to spend the money.” Instead, no election is planned until the regular town meeting in June, and the selectmen’s office will carry on its duties with just two members.
This seems a corundum – to talk of dissolving a 150-year-old town charter and give up something as precious as home rule, based in part on a lack of good people to run for office, when in fact such a popular candidate is told to chill her jets for eight months rather than taking her elected office.
It is my understanding that the cost of a special election would be approximately $100 to pay for a moderator, a little bit of heat and some pencils and paper. Perhaps such a meeting could be made more cost-effective to the town with a re-vote on Mr. Pepler as well. He, too, was fairly recently elected at a special town meeting and, since according to his own research, the same procedures for town meetings/opening statements of the warrants have been followed for the past 10 years, he would not be legitimately elected either. In fact, some residents of the town have begun to question the legality of contracts and other town business, since it would seem that none of the selectmen are technically legally elected.
Furthermore, taxpayers who bring issues before the town deserve the attention of a full board and the ability to have a tie-breaking vote.
Let’s not talk about giving up a town charter based, in part, on a lack of people to serve in office, when there is a citizen ready, willing and able to take that role.