The gathering will begin at 7 p.m. in the Richard T. Reed Room of Town Hall.
This will be Bedford’s first caucus in two years. The event was canceled in 2021 because of the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic. But that took an act of the Legislature, signed by the governor because the caucus is enabled under state law.
Town Clerk Bridget Rodrigue said there will be appropriate safety precautions in the room. Space between chairs will be ample, masks will be required, and air filtration will be activated many hours before the event.
Rodrigue said the caucus can take place with at least 25 voters present. She noted that the event two years ago had about 75. The caucus is required as a provision in the town’s general bylaws.
Over the years, the caucus has assumed two important purposes:
- The event gives candidates an opportunity to formally introduce themselves and their platforms;
- The caucus also identifies which positions on the town ballot are not being sought, leaving a couple of weeks to generate interest.
Rodrigue will open the proceedings, to allow the caucus to choose a presiding officer. Historically, that has been the Select Board member with the longest remaining term of office. That’s Chair Margot Fleischman, and she confirmed she will be at the podium.
After the appointment of a secretary, the nominations begin, one office at a time. Each candidate is nominated and seconded; the nominator is invited to speak, followed by the candidate. (A person must be present at the caucus to be nominated.) When all candidates have been heard, the caucus votes.
Candidates choosing to run without participating in the caucus may pick up nomination papers and sign an intent to run at the Town Clerk’s office by Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. Nomination papers with at least 50 valid voter signatures must be returned to the Town Clerk’s office by 5 pm on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, for certification.
Positions on Bedford’s March 12 ballot will include two on the Select Board, two on the School Committee, two on the Planning Board, moderator, assessor, vocational school committee member, and three library trustees. Several candidates have already formally announced: incumbent Emily Mitchell and Shawn Hanegan for Select Board; incumbent Brad Morrison and Sheila Mehta-Green for School Committee; Mark Siegenthaler for moderator; and incumbent Nancy Asbedian for Shawsheen Tech Committee.
Incumbents who are not seeking re-election are Hanegan to the Planning Board, Assessor Bruce Murphy, and Alma Hart to the Board of Library Trustees.
According to the bylaw, the caucus may nominate two candidates for each office, and 8 percent of the voters present are required to secure the nomination. (That means a candidate and spouse and two adult children can successfully nominate in a crowd of 50.) Caucus nominees are designated as such on the ballot.
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at [email protected], or 781-983-1763
Correction 1/5/2020: Thanks to an eagle-eyed reader for pointing out a typo: Bedford’s caucus was canceled in 2021, not in 2020.