Bill on Northampton city charter changes heads to governor

  • STAFF FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 8/13/2021 6:20:46 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The state Legislature has approved a variety of updates to the Northampton city charter, including changing the city clerk’s position from elected to appointed and using the title of “chair” rather than “chairman” for the head of multi-member bodies.

The raft of changes passed in the state House and Senate does not include the city’s request to allow 16- and 17-year-olds and non-U.S. citizen residents to vote in municipal elections, or the plan to require mail-in ballots to be sent to voters before all city elections.

Those changes are contained in separate bills, which have received hearings at the committee level and await further action before votes are held.

Thursday’s legislation, which still requires Gov. Charlie Baker’s signature, also stops any incumbent from being listed as a “candidate for re-election” on a ballot, and changes the name of the board that oversees Smith Vocational from “Superintendents of Smith’s Agricultural School” to “Trustees of Smith Vocational & Agricultural High School.”

Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa and Sen. Jo Comerford, both Democrats of Northampton, sponsored the bill.

“The charter changes passed today are due to the incredibly hard work of city officials and the Charter Review Commission,” said Sabadosa. “Through 19 public meetings, (the commission) took the thoughts and opinions of Northampton residents into account.”

The legislation also establishes new procedures to fill vacancies on city boards and committees, as well as a vacancy in the mayor’s office.

In the event of a mayoral vacancy, the city council president “shall serve as mayor until a mayor is elected and qualified” and a special election may be called within 90 days, depending on how close the vacancy occurs to a regularly scheduled election.

“This is an example of a community coming together to make positive changes,” said Sabadosa.

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.


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