By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Hudson – The Board of Selectmen began a potentially long process of renaming itself the “Select Board,” Dec. 7, with a unanimous vote.
Proposed by Selectman John Parent, the move aims to promote gender equality by removing a gendered title from Hudson’s highest legislative body.
“The issue of inclusion and, by its absence, exclusion, is going on all around us, all the time, in just about every facet,” Parent said. “…I felt that it would be important for us to lead this discussion, not to follow.”
Hoping to, as Parent said, lead this discussion locally, Hudson selectmen join an ongoing state-wide discussion about perceptions of equality in government.
Close to 100 of Massachusetts’ towns have recently renamed their Boards of Selectmen in the expressed interest of promoting gender equality. Close to home, some of the municipalities on that list include Grafton and Hopkinton.
“It is one of those things that we can look at and send a positive message while, at the same time, not changing in any shape or form, how we do business,” Parent said in support of his own proposal.
While none of the Hudson selectmen in attendance, Dec. 7, opposed Parent, Scott Duplisea explicitly clarified that he does not see the current title of “Board of Selectmen” as exclusionary towards women.
“We have had women [on this board,]” he said. “And I’m sure we will [have more] in the future. People shouldn’t feel excluded because of a name like that.”
That being said, he reiterated that he supports the change nonetheless.
From here, the path forward remains somewhat unclear.
Other towns changing the names of their Boards of Selectmen have done so through ballot measures, town meeting votes and amendments to town charters.
In Hudson, Town Counsel Aldo Cipriano noted all those avenues are on the table
“The board could call itself whatever it chooses,” he told the selectmen. “…But to give it any credibility in terms of the local bylaws, we’ll have to look at that.”
He and Executive Assistant Tom Moses said they expect, at the very least, a town meeting vote in the future to decide whether to formally change the name of the Board of Selectmen.
In the meantime, Moses noted the town must continue posting meeting agendas and other official communications under the name “Board of Selectmen.” As selectmen can call their body the “Select Board” in meetings, they must stick with their old name in those aforementioned documents to avoid possible complaints of open meeting law violations.
Supporting both Parent and Duplisea in their comments, while hearing and agreeing with Moses, Board of Selectmen Chair Joe Durant said he’s happy to have begun this process.
“Let’s just get it started and get it moving,” he said, Dec. 7.