UPDATE: The name of the unregistered vote is Jeanin Onos. She is, from what I understand, going to mount a write-in candidacy. Which, I am pleasantly pleased to say, is that if there is a Conservative in Gilford that wishes to do the same, you now have the same possibility. We’d be mightly obliged and certainly willing to help out.
We are now in the tail end of this year’s budget season. Last items have been buttoned up, budgets have been finalized, and the General Ledger (“GL”) accounts/line items at the lowest granular level that we’ve slaved over for tons of hours over the last few months have been rolled up into the aggregate NH Department of Revenue (“DRA”) MS forms lines (further reporting on that later on). The Public Sessions, whereby the Budget Committee presents both the Town and the School District (“SD”) budgets have been presented to the townsfolk, were done middle of last month.
Have I mentioned that we are an SB2 town (of COURSE I have!)? So while we don’t have the traditional Town Meeting where everything is presented and voted on all at the same time with everyone watching everyone else to see how they voted, we do have the Deliberative Sessions for both the Town and SD and both First Sessions were held this past Tuesday (the SD’s) and last night (the Town’s) (the Second Deliberative Session is where the townsfolk vote by secret ballot).
And in listening to the opening remarks by the Moderator, Sandy McGonagle who served as the Moderator for both the School District and Town First Deliberative Sessions there was a very disturbing difference between the two First Deliberative Sessions.
Sandy McGonagle and I have known her since becoming active in local politics in my little hamlet. While she and I may not see eye to eye on many issues, I find her to be an upstanding person and in her official capacity as Moderator, tried hard and generally succeeds in playing it right up the middle and fair & square.
So the Deliberative Session is meant to go through all of the Warrant Articles that will be on the ballot come March 13th. They include voting on the final budget numbers, different changes to the ordinances in town, request for from the Town / SD for big number items (dump trucks, fire engines, replacement school roofs (to the latter, should be instead of being in the operational budget, but more on that later) as well as Petition Warrants put in by people who want either the Town / SD to spend money or change its behavior.
Article 1 is invariably concerning the elected positions that will be voted on in March. At Tuesday’s meeting on the SD ballot, she simply said: “here are the positions that are open and the number of years for each term”. I thought nothing of it at the time. Then last night, after delivering the same opening remarks (e.g., exit door, bathrooms, turn off cell phones, no food or drinks other than water, be civil, and the like) she started in on Article 1 for the Town. Yes, she read off all the position – and then did something else.
She read off the names of the people who had put their names into the hat to run. She didn’t do that for the SD, and THAT caught my attention! Why?
The backstory is that there is a woman who signed up to run for the School Board – and was thrown off the ballot because she wasn’t registered to vote in town (kudos to the Town Clerk that caught that problem). Now, from what I understand, she will be waging a write-in campaign. However, that wasn’t mentioned during the SD’s Deliberative Session even though it occurred BEFORE the Session started.
So during Sandy’s opening remarks, I strolled up to the mic and waited to be recognized. I then brought up the differences between Tuesday’s and last night’s reading of the candidates’ names (or not) – and called it a “disservice” to the townsfolk. She knew I knew, and then knew that the word had gotten out about this candidate-whose-name-I-can’t- remember.
At the end of last night’s meeting, before her closing remarks were finished, she circled back about my “disservice” remark and then proceeded to reel off who was running for the SB elected offices. OK, that was a start.
THen I goofed up and didn’t go to a mic and demand why that office slot was open-my bad as she didn’t mention what had happened with this woman, only that the spot was open. Scuttlebutt told me that this was part of an attempt to not shame this person so as to not spoil her chances in a write-in campaign (she has rectified her registration problem but not in time to be on the ballot). Like almost all School Board makeups, I am assuming the same disposition so I am hoping someone will run that at least keeps the taxpayers in mind during the spending (e.g., not all that hopeful).
So while Moderators play a limited role in town with respect to time spent, in this case, Sandy McGonagle may have just played a large hand in determining a race’s outcome. The townfolk ought to know what happened – a slot was “filled” and quite possibly, others that might have filed didn’t bother. Now that it is open, it isn’t clear when that problem was discovered – giving her a head start at mounting a write-in candidacy.
THat’s wrong and not even-handed. We should have been, officially, given the full story right then and there. We weren’t.
And that cover-up is still a disservice to the townfolk.