HARVARD -- Due to the blizzard forecast to hit the area over the weekend, Saturday night's Harvard's town caucus was opened and then continued until March 2 at 7 p.m. Three hours after the governor's imposed driving ban was lifted, Town Clerk Janet Vellante ventured to Town Hall to open and continue the event for three weeks.
Vellante said she, in concert with Town Administrator Timothy Bragan, had been in contact with the secretary of state's elections division to figure out what to do in light of the ominous weather forecast. Originally it was hoped that Harvard town counsel would obtain a court order to continue the caucus warrant. However, the courts closed at noon on Friday due to the impending blizzard.
Plan B was then invoked, where Vellante opened the caucus in the Town Hall meeting room in the presence of at least one registered voter. A wrinkle arose when the governor imposed an executive order on Friday afternoon banning most motor-vehicle travel during the storm.
Bragan had arranged for a DPW plow truck to transport Vellante to Town Hall, but in the end the driving ban was lifted Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.
"Gabe and I drove to the Town Hall on our own accord," said Vellante on Monday. "At 7:01 p.m., I declared that the caucus would be rescheduled for March 2 at 7 p.m. due to a lack of quorum."
Generally, the caucus lasts all of 10 minutes, yet attracts town politicos by the dozens. The opportunity is ceremonial in part because candidates for townwide office may pick up nomination papers at the clerk's office during regular office hours before the caucus is convened. Vellante said, as of Monday, no candidate had pulled paper for any town posts.
With the many traditionally attending the town caucus, candidates can gather nomination signatures and return the completed paperwork to secure a ballot position on the same evening. From the date of the caucus, candidates have 10 days to turn in their completed nomination papers.
With the town caucus continued until Saturday, March 2, at 7 p.m., the nomination paper deadline will move to Tuesday, March 12, at 5 p.m.
At Vellante's request, the Harvard Board of Selectmen voted to move the annual Town Election to Tuesday, April 30, the same day as the state primary to replace former Sen. John Kerry.
The posts up for election are: moderator (one position for one year), selectman (two positions for three years each), Cemetery Commission (one position for three years), Community Preservation Committee (one position for three years and another position for one year), Harvard Board of Health (one position for three years), library trustee (two positions for three years), Park and Recreation Committee (one position for three years and another position for two years), Planning Board (one position for three years and another position for one year), School Committee (one position for three years), tree warden (one position for one year) and Warner Free Lecture Society trustee (two positions for three years).
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