BELMONT – A petitioned warrant article seeking to revoke SB2, also known as the Official Ballot Act, brought about six people to a public hearing last night.
The warrant article, signed by at least two members of the town's budget committee, needs a two-thirds vote to pass and would change the current voting system back to traditional town meeting.
Budget Committee member Tracey LeClair was one of the first signers of the petition. She said she supports returning to the traditional town meeting format because since SB2 has gone into effect, she has spoken with a number of people who don't necessarily know what a warrant article means but if it contains a dollar amount, they will vote "no."
LeClair gave as examples warrant articles such as money being expended by a sewer or water district. She said there's no taxes being raised, the money being spent is revenue through users fees, yet the article could fail simply because a majority sees a dollar amount and votes "no."
Calling supporters of SB2 the "just say nos" she said the law (N.H. RSA 40:13) that was enacted in 1995 was likely started by the "just say nos."
Speaking against the warrant article and for continuing with SB2 was Robert Racette – a familiar face at Town Meetings before the change in 2009 and at SB2 sessions.
"SB2 gives everybody a chance to vote," he contended, saying that annual town meetings prevent elderly, handicapped, and working people from casting their votes.
He said annual town meetings are often swayed to the positive by "special interest groups" who only have their own interests at heart.
The town of Gilmanton also has a warrant article for revoking their SB2 format, although it was only enacted three years ago. Gilmanton's SB2 hearing, held last week, was also very sparsely attended with three residents attending and all of them supporting a return to traditional town meeting.
When challenged by the Gilmanton Board of Selectmen about why so few people came to the public hearing, traditional town meeting supporter Vinnie Baiocchetti said the hearing was perfunctory – that it was a "yes or no" vote and most of the people in town had likely already made up their minds.
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