Selectmen retain name

SOUTHWICK – The Board of Selectmen will not change its name, at least not this year.
Town Meeting voters did not approve Article 39 – the last article on the warrant – to change the name of the board to the Southwick Select Board.
Ruth Preston, administrative assistant to the Planning Board, made the request to selectmen last August and the board brought it to the May 19 Town Meeting.
Preston said this week she really thought it would pass. She said being the last article didn’t help her cause.
“A lot of people had already left and I think if more people were there, it would have passed,” said Preston. “There were a number of people in the community who said ‘it’s about time’ when I told them aout it.”
Preston said last summer it’s something she feels would be a giant step toward recognizing the leadership of women in town.
“I noticed that other communities in the state have a select board, and we have had women on our board,” said Preston. “The term selectmen is inappropriate in this day and age – women are leaders.”
While researching the procedure required to make the change, Preston spoke with officials in Granby, which has a select board, but previously had a board of selectmen.
“They said when a woman came on the board, they just changed the name,” said Preston. “It seems it is as easy as that, but I know there will be some financial considerations for things like changing letterhead.”
Preston did her homework and found that 17 towns in Massachusetts have a select board and just one or two others have a board of selectmen. Many communities have a city council.
Preston noted that the Board of Selectmen did not object to the change, but wanted to bring it to the town, which she didn’t think was necessary based on her research.
“I called a couple of towns that made the change, and they just did it,” she said.
Despite the vote Tuesday, Preston said she isn’t done fighting to bring the town up to date.
“Needless to say, I’m disappointed,” she said. “But I’m not giving up.”

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