Southampton pushes back Town Meeting, election again

  • Southampton Town Hall. JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 5/31/2020 7:01:12 PM

SOUTHAMPTON — Having already postponed Town Meeting and the town election once, the Select Board is now looking at dates in the second half of July or early August given continuing concerns about gatherings of large numbers of people amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Select Board members voted unanimously Tuesday to scrap plans to hold Town Meeting on June 9 and the town election on June 23. The events had been re-scheduled once before this year, originally set to take place on May 5 and May 19, respectively.

“It is way too early to stick to the dates we’d identified in June,” Select Board Chairwoman Maureen Groden told the Gazette.

The Select Board is waiting for more guidance from the state on conducting town meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic before scheduling a date, Groden said.

Positions on the ballot for this year’s town election include town moderator and the Select Board seats held by Groden and John Martin.

Legislation on town meetings and caucuses that would reduce quorums necessary for town meetings and allow for remote participation during the COVID-19 emergency is currently making its way through the Legislature. An amendment to the state Senate’s municipalities bill passed the state House of Representatives last week.

“The House finally got something together that meets the needs of every municipality in the state,” said state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton.

At the Select Board meeting, Town Administrator Ed Gibson said the town should consider dates in the second half of July or early August.

“Hopefully things will improve,” he said.

Southampton Town Clerk Luci Dalton said she’s not aware of any other time in Southampton’s history when Town Meeting was pushed back.

Logistics for the annual meeting — whether held at the William E. Norris School, the normal location, or at an outdoor location — were discussed at the meeting, as were safety measures. Town Moderator Robert Floyd said turning people away because of capacity issues is a possibility.

“Obviously the goal is to maximize participation and to keep everyone safe,” Groden said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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