Tuesday’s Caucus More Than a Symbolic Exercise

January 8, 2024
Bedford’s Town Caucus 2024 will be held tomorrow (Tuesday, Jan. 8) at 7 p.m. in the Reed Room of Town Hall on Mudge Way. Candidates will be nominated in person. BedfordTV will broadcast the event. Image: https://www.youtube.com/@BedfordTv/

Bedford is one of only a handful of Massachusetts towns that still holds an annual citizens’ caucus to nominate candidates for local office.

This year’s event, scheduled at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Reed Room of Town Hall, is much more than a token political exercise of tradition.

That’s because there is a key open position on the March 9 town ballot, and the caucus is a pre-election milestone where vacancies are either filled or exposed. 

Less than nine weeks before the election, and 11 weeks before Annual Town Meeting, there is no announced candidate for moderator. The position has been vacant since Mark Siegenthaler’s resignation in September. Deputy Moderator Betsey Anderson filled in at Special Town Meeting in November. She is not seeking the post, which she held for several years.

There are two other positions on the ballot for which there are so far no announced candidates, both on the Board of Library Trustees. The incumbents, Fahad Alden and Michael Pulizzi, have decided not to seek re-election.

The caucus is not a suspenseful experience because it is authorized to nominate two candidates for every vacancy. The words “caucus nominee” follow their names on the ballot. Office-seekers who are not nominated or who miss the event still can get on the ballot by collecting a minimum of 50 registered voters’ signatures.

Select Board member Paul Mortenson will preside at the caucus. Names are nominated from the floor, but the only speeches are by the candidates, limited to three minutes. For years there were also nominating speeches, which were suspended in 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic to save time and have yet to be restored. (The 2020 caucus was canceled.)

There could be additional candidates for all positions on the ballot. Here is the known status of the seats available:

  • Select Board: Incumbent Margot Fleischman is not seeking re-election. Dan Brosgol has announced his candidacy.
  • School Committee: Brosgol is not seeking re-election. Angel Pettit has announced his candidacy.
  • Planning Board: Chris Gittins has announced his candidacy for re-election.
  • Board of Health: Anita Raj and Maureen Richichi are both running for re-election.
  • Board of Assessors: Incumbent Dennis Ross wrote last week, “I am still considering running, but need to ensure I’ll have the time to commit to the three-year term.”
  • Shawsheen Valley Technical High School: Brian O’Donnell plans to seek re-election.
  • Housing Authority: Lauren Crews confirmed she will be a candidate for re-election.
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