Clean and Open Elections Task Force

  • About the Task Force

  • Members

  • Meetings and Minutes

Somerville voter turnout tends to be higher than national averages, but a new task force established by Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone will take an even broader approach to expanding democratic participation. The new Clean and Open Elections Task Force, which is currently seeking members, will review ways to increase participatory democracy and support clean elections in the city through options such as public financing, expansion of early voting, and more. Interested residents are encouraged to apply for Task Force membership. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, August 22, 2017.

“Voter participation in the U.S. is among the lowest of developed, democratic nations, and we need to ensure we are doing everything we can as a city to reverse that at least locally. Some of our options may be more procedural, such as expanding voter outreach and early voting. But we also need 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,” said Mayor Curtatone. “There are excellent models and ideas in this area including public financing, and having the Task Force explore the best thinking will be a great benefit for the community.”

The Clean and Open Elections Task Force will consist of seven members, one of whom will be the Chairperson of the Ethics Commission. All seven members of the Task Force must be residents of Somerville with a demonstrated interested in democratic participation. Applicants with relevant expertise in areas such as election financing, voter participation and turn out, or disclosure and reporting requirements are sought alongside those passionate about this issue. Once all applications have been reviewed, the Mayor will appoint five members to the Task Force including the Chairperson and will request that the President of the Board of Aldermen appoint a member of the Board or a designee to the Task Force. The names and qualifications of the selected members will be published on the City’s website.  

The Task Force is expected to convene their first meeting in September of 2017 and conclude their work within 6-8 months. Meetings will be held twice-monthly, or as deemed necessary. The Task Force will submit a report detailing its findings and recommendations to the Mayor and the Board of Aldermen no later than May of 2018. This report will be shared with the community through various means and will serve as the foundation for broader community discussion and next steps in this area.  

All Residents Welcome to Apply

UPDATE: The application period is now closed. Members have been selected for this volunteer position and a listing can be seen in the "Members" tab above.

Suggest an Expert Advisor

In addition to the formal Task Force membership, Task Force Advisors will be sought to serve as a resource to support the committee’s research. Invitations will be made to academics, advocates, and others with relevant expertise and experience. Recommendations from residents regarding advisors are welcome. Please send your recommendations to Annie Connor, Legislative Liaison, at[email protected].

For additional information, please contact Annie Connor, Legislative Liaison, at [email protected].

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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