Town Meeting is the Legislative branch of Town government. In Arlington, it is made up of 252 representatives from 21 precincts. Town Meeting is governed by the Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 43A, Standard Form of Representative Town Meeting Government and the Town of Arlington Bylaw Title I- General Government, Article 1.
More about how Town Meeting is planned, the duties of participants (Select Board, Finance Committee, Redevelopment Board, Town Moderator, Town Clerk, and Town Meeting members), procedures, regulations, and other information is available in Title 1 – General Government, Article 1 in the Town Bylaws section of the Arlington Town website.
Up to date information about Arlington’s Town Meeting can be found on the Town Meeting page of the Town’s website.
What you need to know to Run for Town Meeting
Precinct Representation: You must be a resident of the precinct you represent at the time of the filing of nomination papers. If you move elsewhere in town after an election, you continue to represent your former precinct until the next election.
Time commitment for Town Meeting members: Monday and Wednesday nights from 8 to 11, starting the last Monday in April. In recent years, Town Meeting has lasted about a month. Special Town Meetings can also be held outside the April timeframe.
Eligibility: Any registered voter in the Town of Arlington is eligible.
Term: Three years. When you run, it will be for the three-year term or any unexpired one or two year terms. Candidates receiving the highest number of votes fill the three-year terms, followed by any unexpired two-year and one-year terms.
Nominating Petition: New candidates must obtain nomination papers from the Town Clerk’s office and should do so well before the deadline. The petition must be signed by 10 eligible voters from your precinct, it is advisable to collect at least 16 signatures in case some are disallowed. Signed petitions must be submitted to the Registrars of Voters in the Town Clerk’s office by the deadline. It is possible to withdraw your name from the ballot later.
Running as a Write-In Candidate: You may also decide to run as a write-in candidate if you are not on the ballot. This is most likely to be successful if there are open positions on the ballot. Ask people to write your name and address on the ballot space indicated for write-in votes. It is helpful to give voters a card or small printed sticker, with the correct spelling of your name and your address that they can paste on the write-in space.
Precinct Maps: These are available at the Town Clerk’s office or through the Town’s online Map Library, which includes a Voter Polling Locations and Precincts Map (townwide) and a Voter Polling Locations and Precincts Mapbook (maps by precinct).
Voting Lists: Request a copy of the list of registered voters for your precinct when you file your nomination papers. This list is useful for door-to-door canvassing.
Handouts: Some candidates have a sheet or card printed to advertise themselves. Include your name, address, length of residence in Arlington, public positions held, community activities and any message you wish to convey.
Walking the Precinct: Knocking on doors, talking to people directly and leaving your handout is very effective. Please note that it is illegal to leave your handout in the mailbox. Place it securely between doors, under the doormat, or in another obvious place. You want the voters to see your handout, but you do not want them angry because it litters their yards.
Candidates’ Night: Scheduled a few weeks before the local election at Town Hall, this annual event is run by the LWV of Arlington and Envision Arlington. Candidates for office are given the opportunity to caucus with Town Meeting Members and members of the public from their Precinct at a designated area of Town Hall before the town-wide candidate debate begins.
Neighborhood Organizations: Contact your neighborhood organization, if you have one, and ask if they have a candidate’s night.
Coffee Parties: You can organize your own in friend and supporters homes in your precinct. You might attend parties given for town-wide candidates and ask if you can introduce yourself as a Town Meeting candidate.
Candidate Announcements: Envision Arlington sponsors an online forum for Town Meeting Member candidate statements. Registered candidates are contacted to submit a statement. The Advocate and Star: Letters from candidates and supporters will be considered for publication if they address specific campaign issues; letters should be 400 words or less and must include the writer’s name, address and phone number.
Election Day: Another very effective method of getting elected is to stand at the polls on election day. You can stand at the polling place with a sign, or handouts, or both. You must be 150 feet from the nearest entrance, and you may not leave your sign unattended.