HARWICH — Town Clerk Anita Doucette has released the 2018 town election calendar with the dates for obtaining and filing nomination papers for the May 15 annual town election. There is only one selectman position on the ballot this year, and the incumbent says she is not running.
Selectman Jannell Brown's three-year term expires on election day. She said she will not seek a second term, mostly for financial reasons.
“I don't believe I'm going to run again,” Brown said last Thursday. “I've enjoyed it, but it takes too much time for no money. I'm 47 years old and have two young kids. All the money goes for a babysitter. I need to be paid for my time.”
Selectmen are paid $1,500 a year for their service. The finance committee has been examining an increase in compensation for the board, a directive of town meeting a couple of years ago when voters decided to take away health insurance benefits from selectmen.
Brown said she is in the process of applying to law school. Being a selectman opened many doors, she said, and she has a particular interest in municipal law. Her plan is to seek a master's certificate in public policy at UMass Dartmouth through an online program and enter law school there is 2019.
“It's too bad. I really like the work, but it's a financial issue,” she said. “The system of government is not conducive for a young person who has to work 40 hours a week. If they bump up the salary it still wouldn't be enough. I really enjoyed the whole process and doing my best with logical, fair-headedness.”
Brown said she hopes somebody young steps forward to run because it is important to have someone to represent that segment of the community. But the salary and time required of board members makes it difficult for young people, which is why the position draws so many retirees, she said, adding that she has not ruled out coming back again to the board in the future.
Doucette said she had heard that Brown was not planning to run for re-election and that there are a few people considering a run. “It will be interesting to see who comes in and takes out papers,” Doucette said.
As for the status of the compensation study being conducted by the finance committee, Dana DeCosta, who chairs the subcommittee conducting the study, said the group will post a meeting within the next week to shape the recommendation to present to the full committee. He also said the subcommittee is looking at whether Brooks Free Library Trustees should be compensated.
DeCosta said it should be the finance committee that puts forth compensation changes for voters to consider and not the selectmen. The subcommittee has looked at the salaries in other Cape communities, he said, including the seven towns which have decided to get rid of selectmen benefits, and the compensation responses have varied.
“It's up to us to make the decision,” DeCosta said.
The plan is to have the finance committee discuss the subcommittee's recommendation this month and submit an article for the annual town meeting. The article should open up the compensation issue to discussion, DeCosta said.
There are several other elective positions with expiring terms that will be on the annual election ballot. They include the three-year term for moderator; three-year term on the Monomoy Regional School Committee; three three-year terms for Brooks Free Library Trustee; a three-year and a one-year unexpired term on the water commission; and a four-year term on the housing authority.
The last day to obtain nomination papers is Friday, March 23 and papers must be submitted by Tuesday, March 27 for review by the board of registrars. The last day papers can be submitted to the town clerk is Tuesday, April, 10 and the last day to withdraw nomination papers is Thursday, April 12.
The last day to register to vote before town meeting and the annual election is Tuesday, April 17, and the last day to register for the special town meeting, usually called for the second night of town meeting, is April 27.