Rezoning proposal vote could be conducted via secret ballot

Apr 6, 2021

During the Board of Selectmen meeting on April 6, Selectmen Peter Teitelbaum announced he will make a motion at Saturday’s Town Meeting to conduct the vote on Article 1 — the controversial rezoning proposal brought forth by the Notos Group developers — via secret ballot. 

Teitelbaum said the Town Moderator and Town Clerk would be prepared to move forward with a secret ballot vote. 

“They have tear cards where it’s ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ and you tear it,” he said. “I’ve told the moderator that I will make such a motion and then, of course, it’s up to the body as to whether they wish to accept that or not.” 

Teitelbaum said he is not often a proponent of legislators — “that’s what we act as when we’re at town meeting; we’re acting as legislators,” he said — conducting votes in secret. But the rezoning proposal has been “such a battle” that he said he believes a secret ballot is in everyone’s best interest. 

“We don’t want people looking over at their neighbors — regardless of which side they’re on — thinking, ‘Oh, that jerk. I can’t believe they just voted this way,’” Teitelbaum said. 

Other board members expressed support for the secret ballot motion. 

“We need to be still friends and neighbors when this is over,” said Selectman Patrick Tropeano. “It would be nice if we could all just get along, go and vote, be happy and move on. So I’m in favor of [Peter’s] motion.”

Selectman Jim Munise said he would have “no problem holding up my card one way or the other.”

“Glad it’ll be over one way or the other,” Munise said. “And we can move forward.”

Selectman Alan Slavin also stressed that the rezoning proposal should not end friendships.

“Whether you want to vote yes or no at this point, really is not the problem,” he said. “What bothers me most is we’re taking people that have been friends for years, acquaintances, whatever — and we’re really dividing the town on this particular article. It’s not worth losing friends over.”

He noted that the 2020 presidential election “really tore the country apart,” and then focused back on the upcoming vote on Article 1. 

“I hope this doesn’t tear Wareham apart as well,” Slavin said.

Update: This story has been updated to include some of Selectman Alan Slavin’s comments from the April 6 Board of Selectmen’s meeting.