Board of Selectmen chair initiates petition drive to get residents to vote to create a commission in November
By Mark E. Vogler
Board of Selectmen Chair Anthony Cogliano this week 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. “I started the process on Monday (June 4) and believe we will be at 1,000 by the end of the week, weather permitting,” Cogliano told The Saugus Advocate yesterday.
“My goal would be to ramp up the pace as more people hear the message. People love the idea of having a say in who their Town Manager will be and that say will come every four years on election day,” Cogliano said.
The petition that has been circulating throughout town this week makes a request for the Town of Saugus “to revise its present charter to adopt a new charter.”
Cogliano said he’s been “knocking on doors” in precincts one and eight and noted that the response “has been incredible.”
The goal is to get enough signatures to include the Charter Commission issue on the November Ballot. Cogliano said the petition drive would need 3,200 signatures to get on the ballot, but he is seeking 4,000.
Once established, the commission would spend 18-24 months studying and modifying the town’s current charter with the input of town residents, according to Cogliano.
“Saugus may not be ready for an overhaul of our present government, but they are definitely ready for an elected town manager over an appointed one,” Cogliano said.
“The reason is simple, accountability at the top. The manager’s latest contract extension never sat well with me as it was done on the sneak. Scott’s contract didn’t expire until 2025, and any talks about an extension should have taken place with the next Board of Selectmen,” he said.
“I want to make sure that never happens again in this town. The latest extension gives the manager the full pension he was seeking but not done in the proper manner. This charter change could be presented to the voters in the 2025 election where they can vote it up or down,” he said.
If voters approve a charter change, Saugus could have its first elected town manager or town administrator in early 2026, Cogliano said. He noted that the roles for the Manager and Board of Selectmen would have to be redefined.
“It is also my thought that the Board of Selectmen should have staggered terms,” Cogliano said.
“I held a roundtable discussion with about 75 residents and let them know my thoughts as I listened to theirs. We have a long way to go and a very short window to get there, but I’m confident we will. If we want to build a better Saugus, it has to begin somewhere, and I know this is what’s in our best interest,” he said.
Cogliano praised Town Manager Scott Crabtree and his administrative team for maintaining a fiscally stable environment in town government. “It’s great to tout the financial stability of the town and the AA plus bond rating. The Manager and Wendy Hatch should receive high praise for that, taking the town from where it was financially to where it is now was a major accomplishment,” Cogliano said.
“However, the average person cares about their ever rising tax bills, water bills, sewer bills, cable bills, quality of education, sports, parks, playgrounds and a third fire station. The future of the Square One Mall,” he said. “We have to start working with developers to build what we want and need. Developers would love to get a chance to sit and talk about future projects, but getting a meeting with the present team in place is nearly impossible. Communication and accountability need to improve drastically if we want to advance Saugus, and it will never happen under the present leadership.”
Town residents who would like to sign a petition “to study our Town Charter to help us build a better Saugus for everyone” can find the petitions at the following locations: Richdale, Flex Fitness, Sizzle Tanning, Fauci’s Sports Nutrition, Marina’s Mart, Sons of Sicily, Goodfellas, Tangles Hair Salon, Entyre Inc., Beat ConnXtionz, Rossetti Insurance and Russo Painting.