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SB2 still a no-go in Sanbornton

May 13, 2009
SANBORNTON — Enthusiasm for Senate Bill 2 in Sanbornton continued to wane this year, with 293 residents voting against the ballot form of town government and 225 voting for it.

SB2 needed a 3/5 majority to pass, and for the second year in a row, it didn't even get the majority vote. SB2 has been on Sanbornton's ballot about a dozen times now.

The arguments for and against SB2 this year were much the same as they have been for the past decade in Sanbornton, as were the people arguing them. At the SB2 public hearing in April, resident Tom Salatiello said he had been in opposition of SB2 for as many years as it had been proposed. He pointed to a New Hampshire Supreme Court ruling that found that SB2 denies voters the right to vote on a warrant article as it was initially presented to the town. At the deliberative session, which precedes the town vote by 30 days, voters in attendance may amend a warrant article; if approved by the majority at the deliberative session, the amended article replaces the original on the ballot.

Peter Dascoulias, speaking in favor of the proposal, said that Town Meeting can be a manipulative process, where special interest groups can wait until late in the meeting to present their cause. He also said elderly voters, those who work second shift jobs or need to get up early for a daytime job, voters who may be sick and others are unfairly left out of the process.

"With SB2, everyone has a chance to vote," Dascoulias said.

"A secret ballot is also much less intimidating," resident Bill Whalen said at the hearing.

Sanbornton may not be playing SB2 v. Town Meeting forever. Resident Andy Sanborn suggested at the April hearing that the town look into another form of government a charter government, where items like operating budgets, collective bargaining agreements and bonds are voted on by ballot. A second deliberative session is held several days later that more closely resembles Town Meeting by allowing for open discussion on all remaining warrant articles brought to the voters. Sanborn encouraged people to research other types of government other than SB2's all-ballot vote.

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