Board supports a new name

Apr 18, 2019 by

Published April 19, 2019

MELROSE — Say goodbye to the Board of Aldermen.

Say hello to the Melrose City Council.

This week, the aldermen voted to ask the Legislature for approval to change its name to get more in-tune with the current age of gender neutrality.

Three years after supporters of a new name saw a chance to change fall by the wayside in a 5-5 vote by the aldermen, they successfully brought the issue back in a time considered past due for a change.

Jennifer Lemmerman, the aldermanic president, brought the name change up in 2016 and again last week. The aldermen’s Appropriations Committee discussed the matter on Thursday, April 11, and with the exception of Ward 7’s Scott Forbes, all those present voted for the new name.

Now lawmakers on Beacon Hill will be asked to authorize the city to make changes to its charter. Everywhere “Board of Aldermen” is mentioned in the charter, it will now be “City Council,” and “Alderman” would become “Councilor.”

Lemmerman said recently, “Over the past several years, there has been a domino effect across the state of cities and towns choosing a clearer, more representative title for their local governmental bodies. In fact, Melrose is now the last city in all of Massachusetts to still be using the outdated term Board of Aldermen. In the three years since I first proposed this change, support in the community for a more accurate, more inclusive name has only grown. And while it will not change our role in any way, this change would make that role clearer to constituents who are more familiar with the term City Council and it would more appropriately reflect the various voices the city has elected to this position.”

At their meeting Monday, April 8, the aldermen entertained comments on the proposal. A majority of those commentators favored the change to City Council, with one urging, “Be modern, Melrose. Make the change.”

One Melrose resident commenting on the proposed change to City Council wondered why the idea was being brought up again after it didn’t win approval in 2013.

Forbes, a military veteran, said last week he considered himself a “serviceman” and the women he served with were “servicewomen.” He said he saw no reason to change the entire Board of Aldermen name; males would be “aldermen” and female members would be “alderwomen,” he argued.

The name change passed the Appropriations Committee nonetheless last week 9-1.

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