Selectboard cites electioneering concerns

  • Rindge Select Board chair Jim Qualey listens to a citizen during Wednesday's board meeting. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, February 26, 2018 5:55PM

Rindge’s selectmen have no intention of sending a letter to local newspapers to voice their collective support for the upcoming apportionment article vote.

Selectmen Jim Qualey and Robert Hamilton said they were not willing to be part of a joint document to be signed by the entire board urging residents of Rindge to vote in favor of the apportionment change, as there were both concerned about state electioneering laws at Wednesday’s select board meeting. 

“I’m opposed to do something as a board because of electioneering laws,” said Hamilton.

State RSAs 659:43, 659:44 and 659:44-a all deal with electioneering, which is any act specifically designed to influence a voter on any warrant article, question, and/or open office. 

“I will do what’s best for Rindge within my understanding of the law… that’s all I can do,” said Qualey. 

Selectwoman Roberta Oeser said she didn’t think the board stating the facts of the situation and explaining things would be considered electioneering, and added that if such a thing was considered electioneering, then the board should no longer be making recommendations for individual town warrant articles. 

“To explain is not electioneering,” said Oeser. 

Oeser said she would likely be submitting something herself about the school district article, which if passed would remove property evaluation from the district’s apportionment formula to create a formula that relies solely on student count. 

The question was brought to the board because Jaffrey’s selectmen had submitted a letter to local newspapers earlier in the month, urging Jaffrey voters to attend deliberative session to voice their opinions about the proposed apportionment change. 

Hamilton also spoke about a handout that has been recently circulating in the two towns, urging Jaffrey residents to vote against the apportionment change, as well as a petition article that if passed would change the required vote on changes to the articles of agreement from two-thirds to three-fifths. 

Hamilton took issue some of the information stated and left out of the document. He also took issue with the document saying it was supported by the town of Jaffrey.

Hamilton said he is going to file a Right to Know request to ensure the town of Jaffrey isn’t electioneering. 

The board held a public hearing on keno, which received little public comment. An article to allow businesses in town that meet a specific criteria to install and operate keno has been placed on the warrant for voter consideration. 

Outside of a few basic questions, only one person in the audience spoke either for or against the operation of keno in town. 

Resident Kellen Geiger supports the town having keno, as she wants to support local businesses who would be interested in operating the lottery game in their establishments. 

The board received a letter about the beautification committee disbanding. 

The board is working to solicit volunteers, businesses and other groups that would be willing to take over the maintenance of town gardens. 

Oeser voiced her frustration about not having the board approve the voter’s guide before it went out to print. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.