WENHAM — A proposal to expand the Select Board from three to five members will go before voters in April.

The ballot question is the next step in the effort to expand the board after a petition from the town was approved by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Charlier Baker on Jan. 1. The bill was submitted by state Sen. Minority Leader Brue Tarr, R-Gloucester.

Town Administrator Steve Poulos said voters will now decide the issue via a question that will be on the ballot at the town’s regularly scheduled election on April 6. If they approve, a special election for the two new Select Board seats must be held within 90 days.

The idea of expanding the Select Board came to a head in 2021 when two of the board’s three members resigned in the wake of sexual harassment complaints against then-Selectman John Clemenzi, temporarily leaving the board with one member.

In January of 2022, a committee formed to study the issue recommended the increase to five members. That April, Town Meeting voted in favor of the expansion, triggering the petition to the state Legislature.

Patrick Waddell, who was chair of the committee that recommended the change, said he is “ecstatic” that voters will now get to decide the issue.

“I am very grateful that it has passed the Legislature and gotten the governor’s signature,” he said.

Waddell said he is running for the Select Board seat that is up for election this year, but not for one of the two new seats if they are approved. Select Board seats in Wenham are currently staggered with three-year terms, so that one seat is up for election each year.

In its report issued last year, the committee’s majority members said a five-member board would be better positioned to deal with “entrenched issues” in town such as an unsustainable residential tax burden, a structural deficit, aging school infrastructure and limited development options, as well as the “increased complexity” of future challenges like climate change, pandemic illness and water shortages.

The report said an expanded board would also bring more people into town government, make it easier for members to be absent without needing to cancel meetings, give residents more opportunities to interact with board members, and mitigate the risk of one board member acquiring too much power.

“It is important that Wenham acknowledge the problems of its past Select Boards and ensure that the structure and conditions that allowed those problems to arise are corrected,” the study said.

A minority of the study committee favored keeping the Select Board at two members. In the report, they said the whole issue of expanding the board arose because of a “perceived problem” that one member, now retired, was dominating the board. They said that problem is unlikely to arise in the future, and that the town has “more pressing matters” to address than expanding the board.

Staff Writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at pleighton@salemnews.com, or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

Staff Writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at pleighton@salemnews.com, or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

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