Running for Town Meeting
|Town Meeting Sessions:|
|Oct 2017 STM|
|Mar 2017 ATM and STM|
|Sept 2016 STM|
|Mar 2016 ATM and STM|
|Feb 2016 STMs|
|2015 and before|
|Being in Town Meeting|
|Running for Town Meeting|
|Town Meeting Members Association|
How to run for Town Meeting
Town Meeting Members are elected by precinct during the annual Town election in March. Lexington has nine precincts, each represented by Twenty-One Town Meeting Members. Members serve staggered three year terms, with seven positions re-opening each year. In addition, there may be one- and two- year openings on the ballot to finish out the terms of any members who have resigned.
The only legal requirement to be a Town Meeting Member is to be a registered Lexington voter.
People run for Town Meeting for a variety of reasons such as interest in school, zoning, environmental or affordable housing issues. Some members focus on their own neighborhoods, others on how land is used in all parts of town. Members may be interested in public policy concerns, or simply want to be more connected with our town’s decision-making process.
Before you commit to running for Town Meeting, it’s helpful to attend a Town Meeting in person, or visit http://www.lexmedia.org/ondemand.html where several years of Town Meeting video are archived. This will give you a feel for the pace and procedures that are followed. If you have no patience for parliamentary procedure, you may not enjoy being a Town Meeting Member.
It is also very helpful to talk to or meet with a current Town Meeting Member to gain an understanding of the time commitments.
The Election Calendar
- The Town Clerk publishes an Election Calendar at the beginning of December.
- The calendar establishes the key dates and deadlines for the next town election, including when nomination papers are available, when they are due back, and when the election will be held. (usually the first Monday in March)
- If you miss the deadline for returning your nomination papers, you can’t be listed on the ballot. It is, however, still possible to be elected via write-in votes.
Procedure for becoming a candidate
- Obtain nomination papers from the Town Clerk (usually in mid-December). Note that simply taking out nomination papers becomes a matter of public record.
- Submit 10 signatures from registered voters in your precinct per the nomination form. It is advisable, however, to gather at least 15 to 20 since signatures can be disqualified for a variety of reasons.
- Return your completed nomination papers to the Town Clerk before the deadline (usually at the end of December).
Once you are on the ballot, you have about two months to campaign for your election. Each Lexington precinct currently contains about 2000 potential voters. Town elections are held on Mondays, and never on the same day as State or Federal elections. Unless there is a spirited Selectman or School Committee race that year, turnout can be somewhat low, and a very small number of votes can very often make the difference between getting elected or not.
Candidates can send out flyers, postcards and emails, or write letters to the Lexington Minuteman and other local news sources to announce their candidacy and outline their experience and views on current issues.
The Town Clerk does not have a record of voter email addresses, but can provide a list of mailing addresses for registered voters.
Candidates often stand near their precinct polling location on Election Day holding a sign for themselves. This must be done at least 150 feet away from the polling entrance.
Where do I find what are the current issues?
- From voters: as you collect signatures, and as you are campaigning, ask voters what are the issues of interest to them.
- From the press: the weekly Lexington Minuteman, the bi-monthly Colonial Times Magazine, and the daily Boston Globe Metro-West section.
- From mailing lists:
- Subscribe to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, lexParents@yahoogroups.com
- View the TMMA mailing list public archives: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/lextmma
- Attend the Candidate Night event organized by the League of Women Voters.
- Respond to candidate questionnaires usually organized by the League of Women Voters and the Citizens for Lexington Conservation
- Contact Town Meeting members in your precinct to introduce yourself.
- Read the Town Meeting Warrant, made available at the beginning of January. The Warrant lists the agenda topics to be debated and voted on at Town Meeting.
- Review lex-wiki candidate questionnaires from past elections for the Board of Selectmen, School Committee and Planning Board.
Check the Town Clerk's web site for the current list of precinct voting locations.
Results are announced after 8 pm at each polling location when the machines are opened by election officials and the results are compiled. The Town Clerk will post results by precinct on the Town website, but it can often take several hours to appear there. Results can also be obtained by waiting at the Town Clerk’s office for the numbers to arrive from each precinct. There may also be election parties sponsored by Selectmen or School Committee candidates where results are announced.