During the public comment portion of their meeting on July 26th, members of the Board of Selectmen were questioned by resident, James Markey of Charles Street regarding the reasoning behind a potential Proposition 2 1/2 override vote not being scheduled to coincide with the upcoming presidential election on November 8th. Town Manager Robert Lelacheur responded citing the town clerk’s belief that obtaining enough poll workers for a double election on that date would be impossible. When Markey pressed about having a single ballot for both elections stating that his conversation with the secretary of commonwealth office indicated that it would be allowed. LeLacheur replied that the attorney general’s office and town council said that it could not be done. LeLacheur indicated that he would check again.
Markey continued, suggesting that the schedule of calling for an override felt like it was being manipulated. He also indicated that he felt like there were those who are predisposed in their decision to call for an override election. All the members of the board spoke out, assuring Markey that there has been no manipulation of the schedule and that members of the Board have not entered this process predisposed about anything. “I don’t think any four of us are predisposed about what we are thinking.” Selectmen Barry Berman stated.
Markey expressed his concerns partially because of the way the library renovation debt exclusion elections were managed. “It left a bad taste in your mouth.” Markey affirmed.
Markey charged that a “yes” group was attending PTO meetings, making presentations, and scaring parents to influence people about an override.“There’s five people in the town of Reading that can determine whether or not there is going to be an override (election) this fall.” Berman continued. “and four of us are right here.” Board of Selectmen Chair John Halsey was unable to attend the meeting. Markey continued, claiming a conflict of interest with a member of ‘the yes group” being appointed to the Finance Committee. “Resigning from that position was a condition of his (appointment).” Selectmen Dan Ensminger countered. “We are putting out information so people can make informed decisions.” Selectman Kevin Sexton concluded. “The only thing we can control is that everyone does have the pertinent information.”