mabfan (Michael A. Burstein) (mabfan) wrote,
mabfan (Michael A. Burstein)
mabfan

Local Politics - Brookline Board of Library Trustees

We here in Brookline didn't have a local election yesterday, although many other communities in Massachusetts did. Our local elections occur in May, when we elect Selectmen, Town Meeting Members, and other local officials. Although I don't know for sure, I think that the main reason for the May elections is that our town's fiscal year starts on July 1. Town Meeting always votes on the new budget at the Annual Meeting that takes place in late May and early June, so it makes sense for people to take office just beforehand.

We did have a bit of minor local politics last night, but it was mostly personal. I'm an elected member of the Board of Library Trustees, having first been elected in 2004 and then re-elected just this past May. The Trustees consists of twelve members, with four seats up for election each year. Usually, that means the membership of the Board stays fairly consistent from year to year, but this year things have been odd.

To begin with, back in February one of the older members of the Trustees, Paul, passed away. Since the new election was in May, and his seat was one of the contested ones, it just meant that someone new ran for and won his seat.

However, in the May election, another Trustee, Jesse, won a seat on the Board of Selectmen, and chose to resign her seat on the Trustees. This meant that we had an open seat, which by town statute can be filled by a joint convention with the Selectmen. That we did in August, bringing the Board of Trustees back to twelve members.

But then, almost immediately afterwards, a third Library Trustee – who has been absent from most of our meetings for the past year due to business reasons – resigned. This left another hole on the Board of Trustees, and just last week we held a second joint convention to fill that open seat.

But, overlapping that event, the chair of the Trustees, Dennis, announced to us his plans to leave the town, meaning that he could no longer serve as chair, let alone stay on the Board. He hasn't left town yet, but he decided at our October meeting to resign his seat as chair, meaning that for a month our vice-chair, Carol, was in charge as acting chair. Many of us thought she would just take over until next May, but it turned out that according to our bylaws, we had to have a special election to replace Dennis.

It was fairly evident to all of us that Carol would be elected chair, but that meant that the vice-chair seat would be open. And shortly after our October meeting, I received an email from one of the more prominent members of the Board, strongly encouraging me to run for the open seat.

So I chose to run. I've done a lot for the library over the past four years, and it seemed to me that as vice-chair I could do a lot more. Also, the Trustee who encouraged me to run seemed pretty convinced that no other Trustee was interested in the position, meaning that there would be none of the awkwardness of a contested election.

What I didn't know until last night, however, was that one of the other Trustees had decided to run as well. And in the end, I lost the election by a vote of 5-4. (The two new Trustees were both absent last night, and I assume that one Trustee abstained from the vote; although the vote was required to be open by law, I kept my eyes closed as hands were raised.)

I would be dissembling if I hid my disappointment in the outcome; I thought I've shown myself over the past four years to be good officer material, but apparently I haven't done enough. (I also lost a bid to be secretary of the Trustees back in 2005.) Still, there is plenty of stuff that only I can do, even if I'm not an officer. So it's back to serving the people of the town.
Tags: boston, brookline, personal, politics
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