As others have done, I thank Bob Hallowell for his 10 years of service to Nashua through his membership on the Board of Education. I also wish to note that the special election to replace him is going to cost Nashua almost as much as the total he has been paid in 10 years as a Board of Education member.
In 2014, Nashua had a special election for alderman at large. As moderator of Ward 8, I saw that of the about 6,500 registered voters in the ward at that time, we had fewer than 500 voters show up to the polls.
I estimate that the real cost to the city for this special election will be in the range of $25,000-$30,000.
Besides the cost of having about 11 election officials in each ward (five elected ward officers, four ballot inspectors and two deputy registrars), the city has to pay DPW workers to deliver, set up, breakdown and pick up voting booths in each ward, pay for printing ballots and the cost of handling absentee ballots and other election activities in the City Clerk’s office, and, as school will likely be in session when the election takes place, the cost of police officers to assure student security during the election.
I suggest that the City Charter be amended to allow for interim appointments to elected municipal positions. As Nashua will have at least one scheduled election every year, such interim appointments can be fairly expeditiously replaced at the next scheduled election at minimal extra cost to the City.
My suggestion to the Board of Aldermen would be to add a Charter amendment to be placed on this upcoming special election ballot that would allow the mayor to nominate interim appointments for city offices (Aldermen, Board of Education, Fire Commission, DPW) that would be confirmed by the Board of Aldermen and allow the City Clerk to appoint interim ward election officials (moderators, clerks, selectmen). Permanent replacements would then be elected at the next scheduled election.
Of course, state law covers special elections for replacing state representatives and senators and U.S. Congressmen, so those special elections would still have to go forward.
Such a plan in the future could save Nashua money and, at the same time, assure that, when the permanent replacements were made, they would be elected in elections with more reasonable turnouts.