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Campaign for Charter Change

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Cogliano says his petition drive should have enough signatures to make the November election ballot


By Mark E. Vogler


SAUGUS – Early this year, Board of Selectmen Chair Anthony Cogliano set as a top priority organizing a campaign to change the form of Saugus government. In June, he launched a petition drive to get a Charter Commission on the November Town Election Ballot – the first step in his quest to have the Town of Saugus converted to a city.

Cogliano said he expects to learn as early as today whether that drive received enough certified signatures of registered voters to qualify. “One hundred percent,” Cogliano said yesterday of his level of optimism that the petition drive will be certified.

“Well over 4,000 collected. I vetted each and every one of them with the poll book,” Cogliano said.

“I came out with 3,500 that I verified where 3,195 are required. I am now awaiting certification,” he said.

Town Clerk Ellen Schena confirmed that her office continued its work on reviewing the petitions yesterday. “Still certifying signatures,” Schena said.

At some point soon, the Board of Registrars will meet to complete the certification process, she said. “Monday, August 7th is the 10th day from receiving the Petitions and they must be certified by the end of that day,” Schena said.

But she noted that it is possible the Board of Registrars could meet as early as today. “All depends if we can complete them by end of today. Tomorrow is half a day,” Schena said yesterday.

Cogliano said he expects the registrars will be at Town Hall today to complete the certification. “I went through every one of them and have plenty of extras. I believe I have more than enough,” Cogliano said.

If the petition receives enough certified signatures to qualify for the November election ballot, the issue of Saugus governance could become a central issue in the fall town election campaign, which features five Board of Selectmen seats, five School Committee seats and 50 Town Meeting seats.

“This is just one step in the process,” Cogliano said.

“If we have enough signatures, there would be a question to the voters as to whether they want a Charter Commission and there would be nine elected positions for the Charter Commission on the ballot,” he said. If established, the commission would spend 18-24 months studying ways to modify the town’s current charter with the input of town residents, according to Cogliano.

Cogliano has expressed an interest in running for another term on the Board of Selectmen as well as one of the nine Charter Commission positions. However, Town Counsel John Vasapolli issued a legal opinion earlier this year advising that “no person may appear on the ballot for the office of Board of Selectmen, School Committee, and Charter Commission nor would they be able to serve in both offices.”

Despite the legal opinion, Cogliano said he intends to run for selectman and a seat on the Charter Commission – if possible. “I would like to serve on both if possible,” Cogliano said.

“What we’re trying to do is form a Charter Commission and spend two years to see what the people of Saugus want as their form of government.”

Cogliano has been outspoken in his view that Saugus should switch to a city form of government or have an elected town manager if it remains a town. He has also expressed an interest in being a future mayor or town manager of Saugus.

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