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Stockbridge postpones town meeting, election

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STOCKBRIDGE — In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the annual town meeting and election slated for May 18 and 19 will be pushed back by a month or more. Stockbridge appears to be the first Berkshire County town to announce a change in its meeting and voting schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Highlighting the election will be a two-way race for a three-year Select Board term between incumbent Terry Flynn, currently the board chairman, and challenger Patrick White, a member of the Conservation Commission and the Stockbridge Bowl Association.

The annual town meeting is now set for June 15, with the election the following day, Interim Town Administrator Mark Webber announced during last week's Select Board meeting televised by CTSB TV.

The revision is based on approval by state lawmakers on Monday of a bill allowing Massachusetts cities and towns to postpone any spring elections originally scheduled between now and May 30 because of the pandemic. The bill, which was signed by Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday, also expands absentee and early voting by mail, and makes additional reforms for the spring elections.

Among the other provisions:

— The select board, town council, board of registrars/election commission or city council of the city or town may take the vote to postpone.

— The vote to postpone does not have to include a new election date — that can and will be determined later.

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— To determine a new date, the select board, town council or city council must consult with the local election official and the chief operating officer of the municipality about logistics and feasibility. After the consultation, the board or council may vote on the new date.

— The legislation does not affect any filing deadlines for nomination papers.

Webber noted that there could be a further delay in Stockbridge's annual meeting and election beyond the last day of June, the end of the current fiscal year.

"The situation may force us to go further; it's subject to change," he said at last week's Select Board meeting. Delaying the meeting and election at least until mid-June "will give us a better feel of what the world will be then," he added.

But, in a message to The Eagle on Tuesday, Webber indicated that the Select Board might vote this Thursday simply to suspend the annual town meeting and election until further notice, rather than keep changing the dates.

The deadline for nomination papers from candidates for town offices in Stockbridge remains March 31. Updated details will be posted on the town website, www.townofstockbridge.com.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.


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