BROOKLINE (CBS) — The Brookline Town Meeting passed a petition that would allow legal immigrants the right to vote in municipal elections.
On Wednesday night, Town Meeting members in Brookline overwhelmingly approved a petition that would let legal immigrants there vote in local elections.
The petition would need the approval of state lawmakers before it would become official.
“National discourse for immigrants promotes suspicion and fear,” said Rebecca Stone, a Town Meeting Member. “I want Brookline to express its sense of value to the legal immigrants that make up the fabric of the town.”
“People who are here legally and working and owning homes and paying property taxes are the governed,” Stone explains, “And I think they have every right to have representation in their local government.”
Stone said the decision would only affect up to 1,500 people in Brookline.
And while who will be able to vote in the future is at issue, some locals are upset over who already voted on this topic. Critics don’t like the fact that only Town Meeting members, about 240 people, voted on this issue.
They think the whole town should have had a say.
Stone says that since Town Meeting members are, themselves, elected by the people, their vote is already a representation of the whole town.
If voters disagree, she says, they can hold members accountable the next time they run for office.
The home-rule petition was passed without an amendment that would’ve put the issue on the local ballot.
Town Meeting member Stanley Spiegal said allowing voters to pass the petition would’ve made the issue “more palatable at the State House.”
The state legislature has turned down similar home-rule petitions in Newton, Cambridge, and Amherst.
State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, whose district includes part of Brookline, expects that this attempt will meet the same fate as those before it.
Reached by telephone, Rep. Sanchez commented, “I am not optimistic. I am always hopeful that everyone will see the light and see the value that all immigrants have to the Commonwealth. But I am not optimistic.”
Town Meeting member Stone is realistic about the situation, too. But, she adds, “It was important for Brookline to make the statement, to say that we wanted to do this, and to leave it to the legislature to say that it wasn’t important enough to them not to actually act on it. If that’s the way they feel, so be it. We can hold them accountable, too.”