HARVARD -- The Harvard town caucus was held Saturday night, postponed from its original date last month due to the blizzard. The 53 voters present Saturday night thinned the field of five down to four nominees in the race for two available seats on the five-member Harvard Board of Selectmen. Each available seat carries a three-year term.
In order, the names forwarded by the crowd were Don Graham, incumbent Bill Johnson, former School Committee member Stu Sklar, incumbent Tim Clark and former selectman Leo Blair. But only the top four vote getters would secure ballot posts, according to Town Clerk Janet Vellante.
Hence the importance of Harvard's town caucus process. The caucus attendees only voted to narrow the field in the selectmen's race.
In order of original nomination and on a show of hands, voters nominated their preferred candidate (or candidates). Blair received the fewest votes (15), and his nomination was dropped. Blair was not present for the proceeding.
The top selectmen nominee vote-getter has not held elected office in Harvard before. Don Graham secured 33 votes, while Sklar earned 26 votes and incumbents Johnson and Clark earned 21 votes each.
Most incumbents were nominated for re-election with no challengers surfacing through the caucus process (though challengers may still pull nomination papers at the town clerk's office or launch write-in campaigns).
No challengers surfaced at caucus for School Committee member Kirsten Wright for a three-year term, Town Moderator Bob Eubank for a one-year term, and Cemetery Commissioner Bruce Dolimont for a three-year term. Also no challengers stepped forward to challenge incumbent Board of Health member Lorin Johnson for a three-year term, Tree Warden Christian Bilodeau for a one-year term, and Pat Jennings and Sheila Simollardes for three-year terms as trustees of the Warner Free Lecture Society.
Incumbent Didi Chadran was nominated for a three-year term on the Community Preservation Committee, while Elizabeth Williams was nominated for a one-year term on the CPC.
Incumbent Marty Green and Joe Newpol were nominated for the two available seats on the Harvard Library Board of Trustees. Each seat carries a three-year term. Incumbent Peter Jackson did not seek nomination for a successive term.
No one was nominated for either the two- or three-year terms available on the Harvard Park and Recreation Committee.
Caucus lasted 17 minutes. The process of populating the town ballot is an old one, open to all registered voters in town.
Paul Green was elected at the outset as the caucus chairman; Deborah Ricci was elected to serve as the caucus secretary.
"On behalf of the residents of Harvard, to those of you who are serving in elected offices or wish to do so, thank you for your willingness to give generously of your time as stewards of our town," said Green.
"If, perchance, you are nominated against your will, you can simply decline the honor," advised Green. Green also offered his own reflections on the fact that (as is usually the case) many nominees were not present for Saturday night's caucus.
"I've worked for and with many volunteer organizations in my life. I believe that volunteers are motivated by the opportunity to do something they are truly interested in and love doing," said Green. "They put more effort into the task when they have stepped forward of their own free will."
"So if you hear me call an opening for an office tonight and no one responds, don't feel an obligation to re-nominate the incumbent," said Green. "If that woman or man didn't make the effort to come tonight, or even ask a friend to come, then I believe that may be a sign that they are no longer interested in serving the town. Further, perhaps if there is no incumbent, another citizen of Harvard will decide to stand for the position."
To appear on the printed ballot, nominees must act by Tuesday, March 12, at 5 p.m. That means that those nominated at Saturday's caucus much sign to accept their nomination at the town clerks' office by that deadline. In the alternative, candidates may pull nomination papers from the town clerk's office and return them with the needed 41 signatures of registered voters by the same deadline.
A third approach for securing elected office is to launch a write-in or "sticker" campaign. "So all is not lost if you're not nominated tonight," said Green.
The town election is scheduled for Tuesday, April 30. In a cost-cutting measure, the date was moved by vote of the selectmen upon recommendation by the town clerk to coincide with the state primary election in the race to succeed former Massachusetts senator John Kerry.
Follow Mary Arata at twitter.com/maryearata.