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Spencer moves back public hearing on longer, staggered terms

SPENCER — The town on Wednesday moved back a public hearing on a change to Spencer’s charter that would increase the length of terms for aldermen and the mayor in future elections.

The hearing was pushed back from Aug. 5 to Aug. 9. Town Manager Peter Franzese told the board a public hearing notice was not published in the Salisbury Post in time to hold the hearing on the original date and, pending approval of the board, a notice would be published in Thursday’s edition for the 10-day period required to hold a public hearing.

The board approved the date change unanimously. The new date falls on the day of a regular meeting of the board, but Mayor Jonathan Williams commented he will have to attend the meeting virtually because he will be out of town for a conference.

The hearing is a required step for making a change to the town’s charter. In this case the aldermen are considering increasing the term for the board and mayor from two-year durations to four. They also could stagger the terms so everyone on the board will not come up for election at the same time. Though not required, the board intends to put the change to a public vote via referendum this November.

The public hearing provides a designated time for members of the public to speak to the board about the issue.

The current board, with the exception of Sharon Hovis, is new as of 2019. The reasoning given for considering the change is to create some continuity between boards. The change would take effect beginning in 2023. It will not affect the terms of current board members, the mayor or the seats up for grabs this November.

In 2023, the mayor and top three vote-getters will be elected to four-year terms. The remaining candidates who win seats will be elected to two-year terms, with the next terms for those seats increasing to four years. The result will be only half the board up for election every two years.

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