On Thursday, October 27, the Hopkinton Select Board signed the warrant for the Special Town Meeting (STM) scheduled for November 13. Here’s what you need to know in preparation of the vote.
Schedule of Events
- Monday, November 13 7:00 PM – A Special Town Meeting will be held.
- Location: Hopkinton Middle School
- The meeting is open to all Hopkinton residents that are registered voters. The last day to register to vote is November 3. Contact the Town Clerk’s office for assistance.
- The Town is introducing electronic voting for this town meeting, an enhancement that promises to expedite the agenda and vote counts.
- Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to check in, receive their electronic voting clicker, and find a seat. Large crowds are expected.
- Tuesday, November 28 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM – A special election will be held to vote on a Proposition 2 1/2 tax override to fund the Elmwood School, pending the outcome of the Special Town Meeting vote.
There are four warrant items for voters to consider. The first topic, and likely most contentious, will be a vote to replace the Elmwood School. The total project cost is estimated at $158 million, with 31% of the money coming from the state. Yesterday the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) formally committed $61,257,604 to the project, asking Hopkinton taxpayers to fund approximately $96.5 million. If approved at STM by 2/3 of voters, the measure will move to the ballot, where it will require a simple majority to pass.
Hopkinton has a long history of voting in favor of schools, but the outcome of this measure is very much in doubt. Some residents have expressed concern that the tax consequences of a “Yes” vote will make Hopkinton unaffordable. Others have argued that the Elmwood school is already overcrowded, a trend demographers expect to continue, and that the quality of education may be compromised.
The second item will be to consider a citizens petition to eliminate partisan elections in Hopkinton. The measure would prevent the terms “Democratic Caucus Nominee” or “Republican Caucus Nominee” from appearing next to a candidate for public office’s name on any town election ballot. It would also prevent political parties from caucusing to anoint a candidate.
Hopkinton is one of 16 towns in the Commonwealth to still host partisan elections. “What occurred during this last election cycle involving pseudonyms, newsjacking and fake news was all driven by partisan politics,” said Ed Harrow, one of the petition’s sponsors. “From my perspective, there are no Democratic or Republican solutions to our problems, there are only Hopkinton solutions.”
The third warrant item will ask voters to Adopt the Municipal opt-in Specialized Stretch Energy Code, which will regulate the design and construction of buildings in town for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Stretch code was established at the state level in 2009 as part of implementing the Green Communities Act of 2008.
The fourth and final item will instruct the town to explore purchasing land for municipal parking in the vicinity of Town Hall. The town is including three parcels in this warrant: 10 Walcott Street, 14 Main Street, and an unaddressed parcel on Main Street. The cost of these items is not yet identified but will be included in the motion. The town currently rents parking from Saint John the Evangelist church at a cost of $16,000 per year, and this measure may eliminate that need.