Erving Town Meeting voters to consider Board of Selectmen name change

  • Welcome signs along Route 2 in Erving Center. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 6/1/2020 12:16:13 PM
Modified: 6/1/2020 12:16:10 PM

ERVING — Work is underway to change the “Board of Selectmen” into a “Selectboard,” but the change will require approval at Annual Town Meeting on June 17.

The change would only be a difference of terminology, and would not change the board’s legal functions.

The change is intended to reflect modern views on gender inclusivity, said Administrative Coordinator Bryan Smith. Board members have acknowledged the historical use of the term “selectman,” but still felt that it was not fully inclusive of all the people who have served or will serve on the board.

“I think, in general associations, these terms have a patriarchal affiliation,” Smith said. “It can become a concern for inclusivity.”

This change is timed to coincide with an update to the town’s bylaws, which would likewise codify the Board of Selectmen as a Selectboard instead. Smith said town officials hope to present the new bylaws for approval at the 2021 Annual Town Meeting.

The June 17 Town Meeting vote is for the town to petition state lawmakers for special legislation to change Erving’s Board of Selectmen into a Selectboard. Town officials have spoken to state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, and Erving’s state representative, Susannah Whipps, I-Athol, about co-sponsoring the bill, Smith said. The change of terminology that Erving is considering is fairly routine — other towns have done the same — but support by lawmakers might help speed up the state’s approval process, Smith said.

There is no clear expectation on how soon the state Legislature might approve the town’s request. However, Smith said, town officials hope it will happen soon enough for the town to approve updated bylaws reading “Selectboard” instead of “Board of Selectmen” at next year’s Annual Town Meeting.

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.


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