No joke, the 2023 Burlington Town Elections will be held April 1. Between holidays and school break, Town Clerk Amy Warfield said it was the only logical weekend to choose without waiting until the end of the month.
And while that spring date might seem far off as temperatures continue to drop and the mall traffic continues to rise with holiday shoppers, Warfield keeps a weather eye on the task ahead.
“I now have the framework for the Town Elections,” said Warfield, who has been Burlington’s Town Clerk nearly 12 years. For five years before that, the previous clerk hired her to help get the town’s data base up and running. Her 25 years in electronic publishing was a plus in that endeavor.
Notices are now going out for those who are up for reelection, whether it’s a town board seat or town meeting. They also receive a calendar where all their deadlines are listed.
Warfield has been doing this for a while. She knows off the top of her head who is up for reelection in the spring. Every election excites her.
“I like elections, they’re lots of fun,” she said. “It’s nice seeing all the people in town, and the past three years have been very, ‘how are we going to do it this time?’ ”
Warfield speaks obviously of the pandemic. Will this be a year we can all get together?
During the height of Covid-19, the state implemented a vote by mail and early in-person voting system. In 2020, Burlington had 42 percent of voters turn in early in-person ballots and by mail.
“And it’s sort of stuck with that same number,” said Warfield, who added that the Town Elections are mostly still very much an in-person, day-of-the-election experience.
If you’re running
Starting Jan. 3, potential candidates can pick up their papers for town-wide boards or Town Meeting. They will have until Feb. 10 to turn in those papers with their signatures. Town-wide board candidates require 50 signatures and Town Meeting candidates need 10 from their precincts.
For incumbent Town Meeting members, they only need to notify the clerk’s office that they want to run. There is also a signup sheet available to them at the Jan. 23 Town Meeting.
Warfield was asked how many votes does a Select Board member usually need to get over the top and win a seat?
Burlington, she said, usually has a turnout of roughly 2,700 to 3,000 voters for Town Elections. In terms of the last couple of races, usually 1,500 to 2,000 votes gets the win.
Warfield was also asked if most candidates know what they’re getting into in terms of a commitment.
“That’s a very good question,” she said with a laugh. “I think for some of the more high-profile offices, Select Board, Planning Board, Board of Health, School Committee, maybe Recreation Commission, too. I think they have some idea. The biggest thing that I find for a lot of people on boards and commissions is they don’t always understand what it’s like to work inside of municipal government.”
She said they may know what to do at meetings and how meetings are run because they work at a company or perhaps own a company, she said. However, there is an additional layer to municipal government that they have to understand to be successful.
“It’s not always the individual’s desires, but it’s more of a collaboration thing,” she said. “They need to understand that they are representing the citizens of the town. I’m elected, and I kiddingly say that I basically have about 17,000 bosses.”
A Burlington resident, she has one grown child who lives in Atlanta. Warfield and her husband enjoy camping, and tend to be more mountain people than beach people. They love to hike and take photos.
Warfield has a Certificate in Local Government Leadership and Management – Municipal Government – from Suffolk University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Teaching from Barrington College.
Being a military kid, her father ended up in Washington, D.C., and seeing government in action she says sparked an early interest. She has also been a Library Trustee and Town Meeting member in town.
“So it’s a bit of giving back and being involved,” she said. … “We all grew up with Kennedy, and what you can do for your country.”
Warfield is up for reelection 2026. Has she considered running for other offices in town?
“I don’t know. I love the clerk’s office because it covers so many lives. It’s never boring. Sometimes we feel behind the eight ball, … but it never is boring.”