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Watertown council president will still serve on School Committee

By By Laura Paine/Staff Writer

Wicked Local Watertown
Posted Mar 04, 2011 @ 10:00 AM

WATERTOWN — Nearly a year into their examination of the town’s bylaws, the Charter Review
Commission continues to take an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to their task.
During the March 1 meeting, commissioners unanimously voted to maintain the charter rule that
designates the Town Council president as a member of the School Committee.
Town Council President and Charter Commission Chair Mark Sideris said that as difficult as it is to
be on two different major boards he believes this was set up as a compromise to get “this form of
government going.”
“As I thought about this I found it could be very difficult for someone other than the council president
to sit on this committee,” Sideris said. “Being a liaison and a district councilor is possible but getting to
appoint that person and the role they would have is somewhat [difficult]. I don’t think from where I sit it
would be appropriate to have someone else on the council to appointed to that.”
Currently the election of the Town Council president by the people coincides with the election of one
member of the School Committee. Town Councilor and Commissioner Angie Kounelis said having the
official vote at the School Committee is important.
“The more transparency we have and the citizens are involved the better we are,” Kounelis said. “For
continuity, the council president elected by the people should serve on this important board.”
The commission also voted not to maintain the charter rule allowing the president to appoint town
officers, such as the town clerk and auditor. The town attorney will re-word the rule to clarify that the
Town Council must approve the nominee by before he or she is appointed.
Any changes the commission approves will be sent to the town attorney who will then make the
necessary and legal changes to the town charter before it is given a final review by the commission.
Filling an elected vacancy was also discussed at length during the meeting. In the event that a seat is
vacated before the end of a term, Town Councilor and Commissioner Vinnie Piccirilli suggested that the
charter rule should be written to allow for the most flexibility.
The key elements to his suggestion include allowing an appointment by the body itself or have the
Town Council vote for a special election to fill the seat and allow the council to pick the date of the
“I worry a little bit that the flexibility in itself could be a problem for the council,” Town Councilor
and Commissioner Cecilia Lenk said. “Five of them could move to elect someone who holds their
opinion. If it’s beyond 12 months we move to an appointment method.”
Kounelis agreed and said a set period of time should be required because the council is still serving
the people and the people should be appropriately represented.
The commission decided to table the discussion until the town attorney can make a draft of all the
possible options for filling a vacancy.
The next meeting of the Charter Commission is scheduled for March 15 at 7 p.m. in the Council

Laura Paine can be reached at

Charter Review Commission votes to date:

·The commission approved a motion to add “Town Website” and other widely available electronic
media to this section and to incorporate it throughout the document as a means of publishing notices for
meetings and votes in addition to putting them on the town bulletin board and printing them in the
Watertown TAB & Press.

·The commission approved to incorporate the definition of vacancy in the town charter, which will be
determined and written by the town attorney.
·The commission approved adding the definition of the word day in the charter to indicate what is a
business day or a calendar day, which will be determined and written by the town attorney.
·The commission voted to delete the word “secular” from the town charter and determined that the
inauguration of a town official would take place on the first business day in January regardless of the
calendar date.
·The commission voted to maintain the current two-year term for town councilors.
·The commission voted to maintain the current means of election for the town council president, who
is currently voted upon by the public.
·The commission voted to continue to have the Town Council vice president elected by the town
·The commissioners voted to keep the Town Council president as the designated member of the
School Committee.
·The commission voted to maintain the provision of personnel information to the council as it is
currently written in the town charter.
·The Charter Rule regarding the appointment of town officers will be re-worded so it is clear that the
Town Council must approve the person nominated by the president before he or she is appointed.

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