What does the Board of Aldermen do? Election is March 5

It’s time to talk about the upcoming election. No, this isn’t about the hordes of presidential primary candidates that are already criss-crossing our area, nor even about our next regular city elections this November. We’ve got an election really soon – in less than a month, in fact. Due to the sad loss of Brian McCarthy, there’s an open seat on Nashua’s Board of Aldermen, and the special election to fill it will be on March 5. Two candidates are running: Ben Clemons and Fred Teeboom.

If you didn’t know about the special election, though, it’s hardly your fault. Local elections just don’t usually get much buzz, even when they’re held at unusual times of the year. A local election in March is just off most people’s radar. There’s less media coverage and less advertising, since a candidate for city office is more likely to be your neighbor down the road than a professional politician with a big campaign budget. And so it can be harder to find out who the candidates are, and what their positions are. Sometimes it’s even hard to figure out what exactly it is that local elected officials do. You have to do a little more work to be an informed participant in the democratic process of electing local officials. That’s just a fact. But it’s worth it.

Because even though government decisions at the federal and state levels often have more sweeping effects and dramatic stakes, your city’s government usually does more to shape the contours of your everyday life. (And don’t forget that local elections are shaping the future – many politicians who run for higher office get their start on the local level.) Here in Nashua, the Board of Aldermen makes decisions about how your neighborhood is zoned, about where you can park and about whether you can pay your property taxes with a credit card. And, of course, the aldermen have a lot of say over what the city does with those property taxes, including approval of the school district’s budget. Just in the past few months, the Board of Alderman has made decisions about self-storage units, urban chickens, tax exemptions for the elderly and disabled, overnight parking and yard debris.

Do you want to have a say in who makes those decisions for you? Great! Let’s go vote on March 5. Polls are open in Nashua from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; where you vote depends on where you live, and you can find the location on the city’s website: https://www.nashuanh.gov/205/Polling-Locations-Ward-Information

Not registered yet? No problem. You can register at the City Clerk’s office at City Hall or right at your polling place on Election Day. Check the City Clerk’s site for details on hours and what documentation you need to register: https://www.nashuanh.gov/206/Voter-Registration.

And if you’d like to learn more about protecting your voting rights, join the League of Women Voters – a non-partisan group heading into its 100th year – at our meetings on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Nashua Public Library.

The League of Women Voters New Hampshire is a non-partisan group who occasionally contribute columns to The Telegraph on voter education issues.