EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – The results are in. East Longmeadow voters approved a new town charter by a margin of three-to two. with 36% voter turnout Tuesday night, 2,406 residents voted in favor of the charter, 1,621 residents against it.
That means that, as of July 1st, the current 3-member board of selectmen and the town administrator will cease to exist. They’ll be replaced by a 7-member town council and town manager that will serve a three-year term.
“I think the charter’s an excellent idea. It’ll help weed out corruption. You’ll get a 4-out-of-7 vote instead of 2 out of 3. It’ll be beneficial to us as residents,” said Anthony Dieni of East Longmeadow.
This vote comes amid anger and controversy surrounding the town’s leadership. For the past month 22News has been covering allegations of corruption and bribery among the select board.
“Very very strange stuff happening that did not sit well with me. I believe in honest governing. I believe in working with everybody. I believe in not having strange alliances back and forth,” said John Cooper of East Longmeadow.
At a prior meeting, two select board members ousted the chairman, and made other key decisions. That’s when they offered “interim” town administrator Gregg Neffinger a permanent contract, which he signed Tuesday. .
However, even though Neffinger signed that contract, his position will cease to exist July 1st, when the charter takes effect. 22News asked Neffinger if he plans to run for town manager. He said it’s too early to say at this time.
Also new Tuesday night, Kevin Manley was elected to the select board. He’ll take over for current chairwoman Angela Thorpe once he’s sworn in. However, he won’t serve long. The select board will also be obsolete as of July 1st, and will have limited powers until then.
Now that the charter has passed, the select board does not have the authority to make any major changes. Manley said he plans to run for town council.
The charter also eliminates town meeting as the main form of decision making for policy in East Longmeadow.
East Longmeadow will elect the seven-member town council June 7th.
To view the poll results, use the scroll bars below or click here for full screen: