THIS GUEST OPINION PIECE BY: Melissa Terra has served on the Somerset School Committee for the past six years. She also works as the program manager a substance abuse and mental health treatment center as part of a non-profit veterans’ organization in Shrewsbury. She is a mother of five, including a child with autism, and has been an advocate for her community for many years.

Dear Board of Selectmen, Superintendent, and Somerset Town Administrator,

I am writing to implore you to postpone the Somerset Town Election, scheduled to commence on April 13.

We have confirmed cases of COVID in our area. Having a town election during a health crisis is utterly disturbing and places our community at risk for an outbreak of the virus.

I requested our Superintendent weeks ago to strongly consider not having this town election as scheduled at our Somerset Berkley High School cafeteria where we serve our free and reduced lunch, Monday-Friday. I have notified the State Board of Health since there has been no movement on having the election elsewhere.

I have reached out to MASC and received info from other school committee members throughout the Commonwealth of their proactive measures to postpone their elections. Actually, as of today, 40 towns have delayed elections with others following suit at their next BOS meetings according to a fellow school committee member on MASC. Natick, Arlington, Andover, Holbrook, Hingham are among those towns.

There are no safeguards that could be put in place to guarantee a town election is safe at this time.

Please consider our most vulnerable seniors, who want and deserve an equal opportunity to get out and vote but are terrified to leave their homes. In addition, many do not utilize social media for info on the candidates. I know absentee ballots are an option; however, do you have data to support the majority of seniors prefer and have used absentee ballots in past elections?

I have documentation of other towns that have postponed elections, which I will provide to you by request.

I have received support from many residents wishing to postpone this election to at least the month of May. This can easily be done by a vote from the BOS per emergency order that legislation has been passed which allows towns to postpone without a court order. See S.2608.

Please enact Pursuant to section 1 of Chapter 45 of the Acts of 2020, and because of the state of emergency declared by the governor pursuant to executive order 591, Declaration of State of Emergency to Respond to COVID -19, to postpone Somerset’s April 13 town elections for the safety and health of our community.

Sincerely,

Melissa Terra

Somerset School Committee K8

(508) 642-7553

Editor's Note: 'SouthCoast Voices' is a series of guest opinions from newsmakers and other people across the region, on relevant issues that directly impact the people of Greater New Bedford and the surrounding communities. The opinions are solely those of the author. If you are interested in contributing, please contact tim@wbsm.com for more information. 

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