Motion to clarify application process for boards and commissions fails in Marlborough City Council

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Marlborough Mayor concerned with Phase two of vaccine rollout.By Stuart Foster, Contributing Writer

MARLBOROUGH – An order that the Mayor’s Office work with the Marlborough City Council to develop a clear process for residents to apply to boards and commissions on the City Council website narrowly failed at the City Council meeting on June 7.

The order, which came down to a close 6-5 vote, was submitted by Councilor Samantha Perlman, who said that the City Council is responsible for creating civically engaged residents by providing clear information on Marlborough’s municipal website regarding the process to join a board or commission.

“As someone who was a young person who applied for a commission a couple of years ago, I found it a little confusing how to get involved,” she said. 

Perlman’s order created concern on the part of some Councilors that the City Council would be overstepping the boundaries of its responsibilities.

Councilor Kathleen Robey was one of the members who voted against the order, saying that the City Council does not have the ability to make rules about what is on the website.

“While I applaud the desire to bring in new members to boards and commissions, I am not sure that it is the Council’s job to develop a clear process on the website,” Robey said. “I think that’s the Mayor’s Office’s job.”

Other Councilors, such as Councilor David Doucette, supported the order, saying that additional transparency is always a good thing.

“The information that’s out there now, it’s hiding in plain sight,” Doucette said. “No one knows where to find it because there’s so much other stuff out there.”

Councilor Mark Oram said that his support for the order came from a desire to see increased public participation in city government, particularly from Marlborough youth. He added that he hopes to see a competitive year for campaigning for local elections.

“Since I’ve been here since 1990, there is less and less interaction with the public,” Oram said. 

The vote taken at the meeting was for the order to be referred to the Council’s Personnel Committee for further discussion. The chair of the Personnel Committee, J. Christian Dumais, said he was concerned that, because the Personnel Committee also confirms appointees, there could be a public perception the Committee was recruiting people of like mind rather than on the basis of qualification. 

Perlman emphasized that the order did not pertain to recruitment of people for boards or commissions, but only to identify the process.

After Councilors Perlman, Oram, Doucette, Sean Navin and Laura Wagner voted for the motion, and Councilors Robey, Donald Landers, Robert Tunnera, Michael Ossing and John Irish voted against it, Dumais was the tiebreaker.

“I won’t be able to sleep at night knowing that there could be a possible conflict of interest,” Dumais said before voting against the motion.