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Moderator updates statement
UPDATED March 23: John D. Leone, the incumbent moderator of Town Meeting, has updated his initial statement in support of his candidacy for reelection. The candidate held conversations with Leone Sunday, March 20, and Tuesday, March 29.
Why are you running for moderator?
I am running for moderator because I respect Town Meeting, our Town Meeting members (TMMs) and their service, and deeply believe in participatory democracy. I have been an active TMM myself for 27 years, assistant moderator for three years and moderator since 2007. As moderator, I have introduced many innovative reforms that have helped to make the job of TMMs easier, both before and during the pandemic. Before I was the moderator , Town Meetings were 10 to 11 sessions. My reforms reduced the prepandemic average to a more manageable six sessions, which encouraged a larger, more diverse group of residents to run for Town Meeting.
What did you learn from being a part of a virtual Town Meeting? Would you incorporate any of these lessons into your role as moderator?
I learned many ways that technology can help make the meeting more transparent and efficient, one example is having TMMs sign onto the speaker's list themselves with their voting clicker. I hope to find a way to do this when we are back in person. Also, many TMMs at the virtual town meeting discovered for the first time the electronic warrant library on the Town Meeting's website of all materials relating to each warrant article -- this tool was created at my request and direction to save paper and help TMMs make the best decisions that they can.
Do you have thoughts on the amount of time given to each speaker during Town Meeting? Does this amount of time need to be changed?
Speaking times are set by TMMs by voting for a change in our bylaws. The meeting voted to reduce speaking time from 10 minutes to seven minutes a few years ago, and I would support further reducing the time to five minutes or even three minutes if the meeting votes to do so. One of my early innovations was to install a scoreboard-sized countdown clock on the moderator's podium to help impartially and transparently enforce the speaking time limits.
Some community members have expressed frustration with what they say is a lack of transparency regarding speaker order at Town Meeting. Does the way in which the Moderator chooses speakers need to be adjusted?
The speaker list is just that, a list of TMMs who wish to speak. The job of the moderator is to responsibly call people from that list, in no particular order, so that a fair and balanced debate is presented to the meeting. Some people believe that just because they raise their hand first that it entitles them to speak before anyone else. This is a misconception. The moderator's duty is to allow all sides of the issue to present their arguments. I do my best to be impartial and fair as I call upon speakers.
Town Meeting has added many new members over the years; members that might be different from the traditional body; members that may be younger or people of color. Do you think it's a challenge for new members to get the same kind of respect as long-term members?
No, I do not. I give all TMMs the same respect and I welcome the increasing diversity at Town Meeting during my tenure as moderator. I do not tolerate uncivil or disrespectful behavior in Town Meeting, whether toward fellow TMMs, article presenters, town officials or the moderator. I instituted, as part of our swearing-in ceremony, the civility pledge that makes it clear the first night that civil decorum and respect for all is the rule. I will continue, as I have for many years, to provide educational materials to new TMMs and run the new members' orientation workshop in conjunction with the Arlington League of Women Voters to ensure that new TMMs understand town meeting procedures and can meaningfully participate.
ACMi profile of John Leone
Feb. 12 announcement
With a sense of optimism for our future, I am pleased to announce my candidacy for re-election as moderator, and to ask for your vote at our April 2 Annual Town Election.
The past two years have been challenging for all elected officials. The pandemic presented unique challenges for a town that conducts its business by convening 252 Town Meeting members in a packed auditorium.
Together, we met the challenge of conducting the town’s business during the pandemic. Working with many volunteers and town officials, I planned, organized and handled the logistics for two very different kinds of Town Meeting.
In 2020, we approved the financial articles required to keep the town running with a socially distanced June meeting on the high school football field. We moved to Zoom and a customized voting portal to conduct a Special Town Meeting in November, as well as our 2021 annual Town Meeting last spring.
Served since 2007
I first served as moderator in 2007, and many of the reforms I enacted over the past 15 years helped to ease the strain of conducting the town’s business during the pandemic.
I respect the volunteer service of our Town Meeting members, and I have worked to focus Town Meeting time on the governing decisions requiring thoughtful debate through several innovative reforms. One innovation was the creation of a consent agenda, which packages noncontroversial items so they can be enacted with one vote.
I brought a scoreboard-sized time clock to Town Hall to impartially enforce newly shortened speaking-time limits. I respected a member's right to be informed of pending votes with a rule requiring motions to be presented and distributed electronically 48 hours before debate.
I worked with some talented volunteers to successfully implement electronic voting. Using “clickers” to vote eliminated the time-consuming task of conducting standing votes, and now Town Meeting members are accountable for the votes they cast in Town Meeting.
I also worked to reduce the tons of paper we generated each year, and to make our government more transparent, by moving to an annotated electronic Town Warrant. The annotated warrant is posed on the town’s web page, so Town Meeting Members and the public can use it to track motions, amendments, and votes on the articles before Town Meeting.
Before becoming your moderator, the average Town Meeting lasted for 10 sessions. These reforms reduced the prepandemic average to only six sessions, making service more manageable for Town Meeting members, and this efficiency encouraged more voters to run for seats in Town Meeting.
The responsibility of the moderator is to plan, organize, preside over and run Town Meeting, the debate on the articles, to take and announce the votes and to assist in the assembly and approval of the town warrant. Moderators do not advocate for or write policy; the job requires having a good understanding of parliamentary procedure, town bylaws, and the traditions of the Town Meeting. I pride myself on my honesty, directness and fairness, and I am running for reelection in order to continue this work.
I was first elected to Town Meeting in 1994, and I have served in many other volunteer positions in the town. I am currently president of Arlington Community Media, Inc., and have served on its board of directors for the past 20 years. I am also a member of the Massachusetts Moderators Association, and I served as its president in 2017-18. In addition, my service as a volunteer includes the:
- Zoning Bylaw Review Committee, serving as chair for three years;
- Millennium Time Capsule Committee;
- Town Meeting Rules and Procedures Committee;
- Government Reorganization Committee;
- Arlington Chamber of Commerce, Citizen of the Year 2017;
- Board of directors of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce;
- Board of directors and past president of the Touchdown Club of Arlington.
I am an attorney with a practice in Arlington. My professional experience, combined with my service as your moderator, my volunteerism, and my deep understanding of the way our town government functions, makes me the right choice for town moderator. I ask for your support and vote for moderator on Saturday, April 2.
April 27 through June 3, 2021: Protracted '21 meeting advances clerk study, closes out at session 11
June 16, 2020: Covid-19 reshapes 2020 annual Town Meeting
This political announcement, which includees opinion, was published Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, and updated March 19.
I am writing to ask for your vote and support for my brother, John Leone, in his campaign for re-election to the Town Moderator position. John has been serving in the Moderator position since 2008, and prior to that, he served as Assistant Moderator (he was elected in 2007, but assumed the chair in 2008). In addition, he has been a Town Meeting Member since1994. Under Massachusetts law, the role of the Moderator is to preside and regulate the Town Meeting procedures, decide all questions of order, make public declaration of all votes, and, in Arlington, the Moderator makes appointments to certain town committees. Town Meetings operate in accordance with rules of procedure established by general laws, local bylaws, and local customs and traditions. John has a vast and deep knowledge and understanding of these by-laws, rules and processes, and has been performing his duties with skill and dedication for over fifteen years.
As someone who works with John on a daily basis in our law practice, I know first hand how hard he works every year to organize and ensure a smooth running Town Meeting. Throughout the period leading up to and during the yearly Meeting, John gives precedence to his Moderator duties over all else. He is available at all times and prioritizes every phone call, visit and inquiry from Town Meeting members, and town residents, regarding the processes and procedures of every aspect of the Meeting. He assists residents with questions on how to properly draft warrant articles, he clarifies and explains the articles to those that ask, he gives technological assistance to meeting members who require it, and he always makes time for anyone that asks. In addition, John is frequently called on by Moderators of other towns in Massachusetts as he has gained a reputation of being a source of knowledge of the minute workings of Town Meetings and the rules under which they run. Running the meeting during the pandemic presented a unique challenge, but John worked tirelessly and quickly to arrange a virtual meeting, and set up training sessions for the over 250 Town Meeting members. It became a full-time job, and a lengthy Town Meeting, but it was ultimately successful.
Please visit John's Campaign Website to learn more about John, the measures he has put in place to improve and streamline Town Meeting over the years, and to see how you can help. If you are willing to be listed as a supporter and/or make an endorsement, host a yard sign, write a letter to the editor, make a donation, or volunteer in other ways, please contact the campaign website (https://www.leonemoderator.com/)
There is simply no one with more experience and knowledge for the Moderator position than John, and I hope you will join me in voting for him on April 2nd.
Thank you for your time!
Suzanne Leone Lindner
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