Cheshire Select Board could soon add two new members

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CHESHIRE — With a little help from the Legislature, the Cheshire Select Board could soon grow from three board members to five.

After a vote at the Cheshire Annual Town Meeting authorizing the proposal by a vote of 53 to 49, the town submitted a home rule petition to the state's House of Representatives on July 24. The home rule petition would have to be approved by the House and the Senate, and according to State Rep. John Barrett III, that shouldn't be a problem.

There were a few delays, Barrett said, when the House counsel found that there was some paperwork missing in the proposal and sent it back for completion. When it was returned, the counsel found that there had to be some changes to the wording. It was reworded and sent back, and then reviewed by the Select Board on Tuesday night.

According to Select Board Member Carol Francesconi, the wording seems fine and likely would be approved and sent back to the House counsel next week.

"I perused it last night," Francesconi told The Eagle on Wednesday. "It's more semantics than anything else. It doesn't change the original intent of the petition, so I think it's OK."

Barrett said this is not a controversial item and could sail through as early as January.

The proposal was brought forth by E. Richard Scholz, a longtime town resident who has run for the select board in the past.

"The problem is structural," he said. "With five members you get a different alignment and an opportunity to get more people on the board. I believe it's the right thing to do to get five people in there that have ideas about how the town should run."

Francesconi opposes the measure.

"I don't think the town is big enough," she said. "It's not necessary, and there aren't enough qualified candidates to fill a five-member select board. I don't think people realize how much a select board does. We're always on call, every single day. It takes a time commitment and true commitment to the town."

According to Mark Webber, town administrator, once the home rule petition is passed, the town would have to confirm the measure in an election, either the annual town election or a special election. Once ratified by town voters, new board members would be elected at the following town election — or at a special election.

He said it likely would be ratified during the annual May election. New board members could be elected at a special election after May, or at the May 2020 town elections.

The Cheshire Select Board is a three-member board, but board member Edmond St. John IV resigned to apply for the town administrator position about to become vacant when Webber retires. So, the board is operating with only two members — Francesconi and Robert Ciskowski.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.


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