SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

March 8, 2013

Benton: Busy election season on the way in Danvers

Danvers selectmen took the right course of action, opting to keep the town election separate from both the party primaries in the special U.S. Senate election (April 30) and the final statewide vote on June 25 that will choose a successor to John Kerry, now U.S. secretary of state.

There will be plenty of business for Danvers voters on the first Tuesday in May (the 7th this year), which by tradition is set aside to elect Town Meeting members, as well as those who will serve on the Board of Selectmen, School Committee and other municipal bodies. And because the elections would require separate ballots, Town Manager Wayne Marquis told selectmen, there was not a lot of money to be saved combining them.

On the other hand, voters in Danvers and other area towns that hold their elections in the spring will have to be especially attentive to the calendar lest they miss the opportunity to help decide who will represent them at town hall and on Capitol Hill.

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Veteran Danvers Selectman Gardner Trask took the heat recently when the board was called to account by this newspaper for circumventing the Open Meeting Law.

The issue was a developer’s proposal to open a slots parlor at the Liberty Tree Mall.

“In order to prepare for the public meeting, the developer wanted to know the concerns of the selectmen, and what we felt would be the concerns of the citizens,” Trask wrote the editors. So, he stated, “no more than any two members met with the developer at one time to EXPLICITLY conform to the law.”

It may sound like conformance to him, but it seems more like circumvention to me. Certainly, there are citizens who would like to know the selectmen’s concerns and would have appreciated the “high-level preview” of the mini-casino to which the board was privy.

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