Town Moderator

The Topsfield Town Moderator is elected annually. According to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 39, the Moderator is the presiding officer of the Annual Town Meeting, any Special Town Meetings and any other meetings at which he or she is requested to officiate. The Moderator regulates the proceedings, decides all questions of order, declares the outcome of all votes, and has other powers and duties as provided for in the Massachusetts General Laws (see below) and the Town of Topsfield By-laws.

Pursuant to the Town of Topsfield By-laws, the Moderator appoints all of the members of the Finance Committee. The Moderator also appoints the Memorial Day Committee and the Shade Tree Committee. Anyone interested in volunteering for any of these committees should contact the Moderator at the above noted numbers.

For many years, Topsfield's moderators have used, “Town Meeting Time, A Handbook of Parliamentary Law, written by Richard Johnson, Benjamin Trustman and Charles Wadsworth in 1962, (now in its third edition, published in 2000 by the Massachusetts Moderator's Association), as a guide to the regulation of Town Meeting proceedings. From the Massachusetts General Laws:

Chapter 39: Section 15. Moderators; Powers and Duties.

Section 15. The moderator shall preside and regulate the proceedings, decide all questions of order, and make public declaration of all votes, and may administer in open meeting the oath of office to any town officer chosen thereat. If a vote so declared is immediately questioned by seven or more voters, he shall verify it by polling the voters or by dividing the meeting unless the town has by a previous order or by by-law provided another method. If a two thirds, four fifths or nine tenths vote of a town meeting is required by statute, the count shall be taken, and the vote shall be recorded in the records by the clerk; provided, however, that a town may decide by by-law or vote not to take a count and record the vote if a two-thirds vote of a town meeting is required by statute; and provided, further, that if the vote is unanimous, a count need not be taken, and the clerk shall record the vote as unanimous.

A town may pass by-laws, subject to this section, for the regulation of the proceedings at town meetings. Such by-laws shall be approved and published in the manner prescribed by section thirty-two of chapter forty.

Town Moderator

Stephen T. Whelan