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What is a Selectman? 

Marblehead's Board of Selectmen oversee the general operations of the town. The Board consists of 5 members elected by the voters. Currently, every seat on the board is up for reelection every year. They provide executive leadership to the town while working together to ensure Marblehead's resources are directed in ways that provide the best possible services for all. The Board of Selectmen oversee many different departments as well as calling town meeting and approving the town warrant. The town warrant is essentiallly just an agenda for town meeting.  The concerns are addressed as "articles" on the warrant.

Here is a copy of the warrant for May 3, 2021. There are 49 articles.  

Here is a copy of the 2020 Finance Committee Report.


Massachusetts Guide to Town Meetings:


History of the Office of Selectman

The office of selectman evolved in colonial America. The business of the town grew to the point it required appointed citizens to help manage the town in between town meetings. Dorchester was the first New England town (1633) to elect twelve men as selectmen and organize this style of government. According to Marblehead Magazine, "The First Board of Selectmen" article indicates the first meeting date of the original selectmen was  December 22, 1648.

New England town government is mainly government by committee. The board is required to conduct business at legally called and posted meetings consisting of a majority of the board. Board members need to be collaborative and able to work well with other board members as well as the other boards in town. Selectman need to be leaders. Effective leaders make decisions based on facts, data and reason. True leaders do not use words, manipulation or implied power to influence. Leaders inspire by being an example of personal leadership and working as a team.

Examples of Boards of Selectmen Responsibilities: 

  • Town boards and office appointments
  • Town meeting warrant (agenda for Town Meeting) 
  • Signing warrants/ payment of bills
  • Permit/license grants 
  • Set policy
  • Coordinate with town administrator 
  • Review housing and development

Sources: Oullette, John, editor (2014). Handbook for Massachusetts Selectmen. 4th edn. Boston: Massachusetts Municipal Association. 

Purdin, Bill. The First Board of Selectmen 1648. Marblehead Magazine

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