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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Nashua welcomes first ‘alderwomen’ to City Hall

Nashua City Hall watchers might have noticed some new terminology flying back and forth across the horseshoe this year.

Officials representing each ward have traditionally adopted the title of “alderman” regardless of gender, but that changed when Pamela Brown was sworn in to represent Ward 4. ...

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Nashua City Hall watchers might have noticed some new terminology flying back and forth across the horseshoe this year.

Officials representing each ward have traditionally adopted the title of “alderman” regardless of gender, but that changed when Pamela Brown was sworn in to represent Ward 4.

Brown, who is serving her first term, received the go-ahead from her colleagues earlier this year to use the title “alderwoman.”

“I just believe that the term ‘alderman’ just didn’t seem right to me, and if the term ‘congresswoman’ or ‘congresswomen’ is very commonly used today, I didn’t think it would be a big deal,” she said.

As it turned out, the request proved to be more complicated than she imagined. Decades-old language in the city charter officially refers to the position as “alderman,” with a masculine ending. That has deterred members of the board from using a different title in the past.

“I was actually very surprised when I first requested it and we were told by our printing room that the title was requested before, but it was denied because it wasn’t consistent with our charter,” Brown said.

She raised the issue with board President David Deane, who signed off on the change in January, paving the way for Brown and Ward 8’s Mary Ann Melizzi-Golja to begin using the title “alderwoman.” The term appears on business cards and on their nameplates in the aldermanic chamber.

Women now hold five seats on the 15-member Board of Aldermen. Diane Sheehan, Lori Wilshire and June Caron opted to continue using the traditional title.

– JIM HADDADIN