📷 Newly elected Southbridge Town Council Chair Jack Jovan and Town Manager Ron San Angelo

By Sarah Champagne

SOUTHBRIDGE – The newly configured town council has not yet chosen a vice chairman despite two meetings since new or re-elected members were sworn in.

The council originally held a vote to elect a new chair and vice chair at a regular meeting July 9, after the swearing in of newly elected members. At that meeting, Jack Jovan was elected as the new chairman. A vote for the vice chair July 9 resulted in a tie between Dave Adams and Gus Steeves. The council has nine members, but councilor Jorge Morales was absent at that meeting, allowing a split vote.

Most residents expected a vote to break the tie at the meeting July 16, when the entire council was present. However, a vote was not held because an agenda item to hold the vote was not included on the published agenda in a timely manner.

Under Massachusetts open meeting laws, an agenda for public meetings must be posted for public view within forty-eight hours of a meeting.

An agenda for the July 16 Town Council meeting was posted to the town website July 12 at 5:40 p.m. but this initial agenda did not list an item to hold a vote for vice chair.

A revised agenda was posted to the town website July 16 at 9:22 a.m. which included “motion to suspend rules to add an agenda item” and “vote to appoint Town Council Vice-Chair” at the time of roll call.

Jovan says that the vote was not held because “another member” of the council consulted with the Attorney General’s office on open meeting laws and a representative from that office stated that it would be inadvisable to hold the vote for vice chairman or to vote on a motion to suspend the rules.

The next regular Town Council meeting, usually held on a Monday night at 7 p.m., is not yet posted to the town website calendar of public meetings. The agenda for the July 16 meeting states that the next meeting is a special Town Council meeting to be held Wednesday, July 25, at 7 p.m.

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