, Derry, New Hampshire

February 13, 2014

Resident questions Londonderry SB2 rules

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — The weekend’s low numbers at both the town and school deliberative sessions cemented one resident’s claim that the voting process is flawed.

Resident Reed Clark is a fixture at town meetings. He was the official counter for both school and town sessions on Friday and Saturday.

Clark regularly monitors the entrance door to the high school gym on big meeting days and counts those who show up to hear budget details of both town and school district.

His count Friday night for the school session tallied about 90 voters; the town deliberative session Saturday drew 71.

“I was hoping we could beat the 90 that were here last night,” Clark told the crowd Saturday.

Londonderry voters approved changing the town side of business to ballot voting in March 2011, ending a long tradition of holding the traditional style Town Meeting and voting on business that day instead of later at the polls.

Clark has voiced his opinion on the ballot voting process before. He told town councilors earlier this month he didn’t believe the system was good for getting people to meetings.

“SB2 is the worst thing that ever happened in New Hampshire,” Clark said. “I will always disapprove of it.”

Reed said people can’t get the information they need to make educated decisions unless they physically come to a meeting.

He said the town’s decision to have the school and town meeting scheduled on two days in a row made the process more difficult.

This year, officials moved both meetings to the same weekend to make things easier for those having to set up the high school cafeteria for the meetings.

Last year wasn’t much better, with similar numbers of voters coming out to hear both town and school district budget requests.

Town Council Chairman John Farrell said earlier this month the town is still navigating the system only two years after Londonderry made the change.

“We were trying to get something new to get more people to attend,” Farrell said.

Clark would like to see another change.

“Next year, we should go back to the old style and throw out SB2,” he said.