WAKEFIELD (CBS) – Is the term “selectman” outdated when women are on the board? That is the issue before Wakefield’s Board of Selectmen, and it may go to the voters before it is settled.

“This was not brought up by Ann and I, it is something I hear from people in town all the time, they mumble over what to call me,” Selectman Mehreen Butt said at a recent meeting.

It’s an idea that came from Wakefield’s town administrator. With two members on the seven-member board women, is selectman the right title?

“I don’t know how you argue against changing the name board of selectmen,” Selectman Ann Santos added.

Both women members clearly favor a change, something 30 Massachusetts communities have done mostly calling officials ‘select board members.’

Wakefield Selectmen Ann Santos and Mehreen Butt (Image from WCAT)

But the five men on the Wakefield Board of Selectmen seemed hesitant to state a clear position, saying it should be up to town voters.

“If we’re going to have a name change we have to do it right,” said Selectman Ed Dombrowski. “I think it’s likely we will see a change, but I want to make sure that this change is deliberate and thoughtful.”

The two women on the board favor an informal name change, but that wouldn’t be official until the town charter committee examines the issue, followed by a town meeting vote and a general election ballot question.

“I’m old school, I like the old name,” one man said.

“I think it would be a nice change. I think it would open up some doors and women would feel more a part of the board and represent it in different ways,” a woman said.

There will probably be a series of public forums so Wakefield voters can express opinions on the change.

  1. So who are these WO’s who hate men?

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