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Ashland - Local Town Pages

Special town election approves withdraw from Civil Service requirements

Ashland voters approve measure overwhelmingly

By Theresa Knapp

On July 26, the Town of Ashland held a special town election with one ballot question: 

“Shall the Town’s acceptance of Chapter 31 of the General Laws (Civil Service law) in 1957 be revoked for all officers below the rank of Chief within the Police Department?”

At a meeting of the Select Board on Aug. 16, Town Manager Michael Herbert reported that 314 residents voted in that election, which is approximately 2.56% of the town’s registered voters. 

“It passed overwhelmingly, 253 for and 61 voted against that measure,” reported Herbert, which means voters voted to “get out of Civil Service.” 

Herbert said there had been some urgency in pulling together this election because “the quicker we were able to do this, the quicker we were able to address some of our hiring issues within the police department which, as you know, the staffing had gotten down to critical levels.” 

Herbert said the town has forwarded the required paperwork to the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission for review, and says the town could receive a final letter of acknowledgement within one or two months. 

According to the National Archives, the Civil Service Commission was established in 1883 to enforce the Pendleton Act which “established a merit-based system of selecting government officials and supervising their work.” The Act was put in place after 20th U.S. President James A. Garfield was assassinated by a disgruntled job seeker. Source: