Clean and Open Elections Task Force

  • About the Task Force

  • Members

  • Meetings and Minutes

 

In light of this responsibility, the Clean and Open Elections Task Force was convened by Mayor Curtatone in August of 2018, with a mandate to “look at root causes and take a systems approach to ensure fair, equitable, and open elections that inspire greater participation both by voters and candidates.” The Task Force consists of six lay citizens as well as representatives from the Board of Alderman and the Elections Department, with staff support from the Mayor’s Office. 

We organized our work in support of that charge by identifying the most promising ways for the City to achieve the following goals: 

  1. Increase voter participation 
  2. Lower barriers to candidate participation 
  3. Increase the openness and transparency of the election process 

We pursued a research-backed process to identify ways to achieve each of these goals. The majority of our recommendations are based on strong evidence in support of the efficacy of a proposal. The evidence was sourced from the literature, the experience of peer jurisdictions, or both. For other recommendations, we arrived at a decision to recommend based on a strong sense of shared values and a shared understanding of the primary mechanisms of democracy. All of our recommendations were subjected to debate and discussion, and most were ultimately recommended by consensus of the Task Force as a whole. 

This process led to a set of sixteen recommendations as summarized in the report below.

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Members

Sara Oaklander, Chair

Ms. Oaklander is a project manager with the Interaction Institute for Social Change, an organization that helps communities build capacity for more effective, equitable, and inclusive social change.  As a former Belmont resident, she was active as a Town Meeting Member, a member of the town’s Vision Implementation Committee and co-coordinator of an annual event called Meet Belmont.

Alderman Jefferson Thomas (“J.T.”) Scott

Alderman Scott is the newly elected Ward 2 Alderman for the City of Somerville.  He is a longtime activist and community organizer and lives in the Union Square area with his family.

Nicholas Salerno,  Elections Commissioner

Mr. Salerno is the Chair of the Somerville Board of Election Commissioners.  As head of the Elections Department, he manages and conducts all aspects of the voting process for municipal, state and federal elections.  As the Elections Commissioner, Mr. Salerno also serves as a member of the Ethics Commission, which is tasked with identifying and reporting on any potential conflicts in the financial interests of City officials.

Vishal Doshi

Mr. Doshi works as a Senior Data Scientist for Celect, a core analytics platform which enables retailers to optimize their business processes.  Prior to that, he worked for the Department of Defense under the Obama Administration as the Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics.

Josh Rosmarin

Mr. Rosmarin works for the Analyst Institute, a consulting and research organization that conducts A/B experiments to find ways to increase voter turnout, particularly among underrepresented populations.  As part of this work, he leads a team responsible for conducting a wide range of research, with a particular focus on voter registration.

Ariel Horowitz

Ms. Horowitz is a Senior Associate at Synapse Energy Economics in Cambridge.  Prior to this work, she spent many years doing campaign work at the national and state level in Pennsylvania.  She has also previously volunteered with the City of Somerville as a member of the Bicycle Advisory Committee.

Joseph Beckmann

Mr. Beckmann has worked extensively in the fields of education and civic engagement and is particularly interested in bringing technology to voter mobilization efforts.  He is a long-time community organizer and has served on numerous committees in Somerville, Cambridge and Boston.

Nathanael Clauser

Mr. Clauser is an attorney whose professional work focuses on legal  ethics, conflicts of interest, and regulatory compliance.  He has experience working with state regulations and has volunteered for canvassing and voter turnout efforts.


Support Staff

Andrew Levine, Support Staff
Mr. Levine works at MassDevelopment, as the Program and Project Manager for the Transformative Development Initiative (TDI).  He is a recent graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School where he focused on innovations in municipal government, including new tools possible through technology, operational improvements, and partnerships with anchor institutions.

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