Gov. Charlie Baker has signed legislation authorizing Bedford to skip this year’s citizens caucus because gatherings are prohibited by mandates in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But other components of the bill are actually more important for the local political landscape.
The annual nominating caucus is a requirement under the town charter so it required an act of the Legislature to authorize canceling the event.
Nominating petitions have always been an alternative path to the ballot besides a caucus nomination. This year they are the only path.
The bill lowers the required number of signatures for petitions of nomination from 50 to 10 and extends the deadline for returning signed petitions until 32 to 36 days before the March 13 town election. That translates to Feb. 5-9. The usual deadline is the end of the third week of January.
Those provisions will be helpful because five positions remain for which there are as yet no candidates.
Incumbents who have said they are not seeking re-election are Jeffrey Cohen, Planning Board; Ronald Cordes, Board of Assessors; Glenn McIntyre, Shawsheen Valley Technical High School Committee; Lewis Putney, Bedford Housing Authority; and Sarah Thompson, Board of Health.
Town Clerk Bridget Rodrigue said Monday her office has released petitions to three incumbents: School Committee member Dan Brosgol, Select Board member Margot Fleischman, and Michael Pulizzi of the Board of Library Trustees.
Also, Steve Carluccio received petitions as a candidate for the Board of Health.
Another Board of Health member with an expiring term, Anita Raj, said she plans to run for another term. Library Trustee Dennis Ahern is still considering whether to run.
Candidate nomination papers are available from the town clerk’s office, but only by calling or emailing for an appointment.
The caucus actually was supposed to have taken place last week. The bill accounts for that possibility and acknowledges that an after-the-fact vote by the Select Board would be valid.