Select Board - Mar 30rd, 2020
Meeting held via Zoom video-conference.
Update on Response to COVID-19 Pandemic. Adam Chapdelaine provides an update on the Town's COVID-19 response. Town alerts are the best source of information regarding what the town is doing in response to COVID-19. We're also using a variety of social media channels in an effort to reach as many people as possible. So far there have been 19 cases and one death in Arlington. DHHS is trying to trace as many contacts as possible and place them in quarantine. The Board of Health is advising us on closures and methods to prevent transmission. Town officials are in regular contact with state officials and hospitals. Please stay home and avoid contact with non-family members. We'll need at least another week before we know if we're bringing the spread curve down.
Diane Mahon agrees with the town manager. Isolate, and hope we don't see catastrophic results.
Postponement of Annual Town Election. Town Counsel Doug Heim gives an update. The Board of Registrars met with the town clerk. They concurred with the proposed timing, and didn't express a preference for a specific date. They voted to support a June 6th or a June 13th election. The registrars will adjust to the date the board sets. Absentee ballot voting will be extended to those who express health concerns about COVID-19. The legislature has expanded options for early voting by mail.
Town Clerk Janice Weber doesn't recall early voting being on the table. Doug Heim notes that absentee ballots are a way to vote by mail. Joe Curro asks a question about absentee voting. Mr. Heim says we still have to figure out how the early voting aspect differs from absentee voting.
Mr. Curro says this is a very unusual election. He asks about using signs to announce the change in election date. If feasible, we might consider mailing letters to all registered voters. Maybe we could have virtual debates on ACMi.
There's a motion to set the election date as June 6th, 8am to 8pm.
Ms. Weber voices concern about early voting. She says it requires a different type of ballot, and it would be hard to get that ready in time. She thinks that expanded absentee voting will be sufficient.
Diane Mahon thinks the issue of early voting vs. absentee ballots needs further discussion. She asks Mr. Heim to work out the details with Ms. Weber.
John Hurd concurs with the date. He'd like there to be some time between the election and town meeting. He'd okay with absentee voting as long as we can get enough ballots. He likes the option of being able to request absentee ballots via email.
Steve DeCourcey agrees with the June 6th date, but he thinks the logistics deserve more discussion.
Dan Dunn is okay with April 6th. Today we're setting the date, but there's still a lot of logistics to work out. He thinks we should make it easy for people to vote. He prefers public/private partnerships for distributing candidate information (e.g., Newspapers, ACMi).
Diane Mahon notes that the Advocate has run several candidate Q\&A articles, as has YourArlington.com. ACMi ran segments with candidate statements.
Board votes to adopt June 6th as the town election date, 5--0.
Correspondence Received. Steve DeCourcey moves receipt. With respect to the intersection of Wachusetts Avenue and Appleton Street, it may be worth referring the matter to TAC for review. John Hurd suggests repainting the stop sign at that intersection, or doing something to make it more visible. It might be worthwhile to do that before referring to TAC for study.
Ms. Mahon notes that there's also a request for a speed bump. She'd like to see the town manager do what he's able to do, and then refer the matter to TAC. Mr. DeCourcey is okay with that, or referring study to the town's transportation planner.
Board votes to move receipt, 5--0.
New Business. Jordan Weinstein states that several of the people watching have questions. He says there's lots to discuss, and asks why a later date wasn't considered for the election -- why June 6th and not June 30th, so candidates have more time to prepare.
Diane Mahon says the June 6th date is ambitious. The board might revisit as we get closer to the election date.
Mr. Hurd thanks the department heads, town manager, and residents that work in the medical field.
Mr. Curro echos Mr. Hurd's statement. He commends the residents that have been doing mutual aid work. He also commends the Planning Department's Amazing Arlington effort.
Mr. Dunn thanks public safety, and health and human services.
Mr. DeCourcey points out that today is National Doctor's Day, and thanks our health care professionals.
Elizabeth Dray asks where she can read the rules for citizen participation in select board meetings. Mr. Heim answers, saying that public participation happens in two cases: when there's a hearing or during citizens open forum. The purpose of tonight's meeting was to get feedback from the board of registrars regarding the proposed election dates. We want to ensure that everyone will be able to vote.
Jordan Weinstein opines that tonight's Select Board meeting was "dictatorial".