GOFFSTOWN — In a move that surprised even the elected officials in the room, the Goffstown Board of Selectmen voted unanimously on Monday to change their name to the Select Board in 2019.
During a lull in the discussion of old business, Chairman Peter Georgantas raised a request the board had received last July from Goffstown resident Karen Hewes to investigate changing the name of the town’s governing body.
Georgantas, who joined selectmen John Brown and Mark Lemay on Aug. 13 to reject the proposed name change on the grounds that he saw “no reason for it,” shocked the room when he moved to vote on the matter once more.
“I’d like to make a motion that we change the Goffstown Board of Selectmen to the Select Board, effective January 1st,” said Georgantas.
His motion was quickly seconded by Brown and approved unanimously without discussion.
Select Board member Kelly Boyer, the board’s only female member and a vocal proponent of the name change, was taken aback by Georgantas’ unexpected reversal.
“What?” asked a visibly shocked Boyer after the vote.
“That was for you,” said Georgantas.
“I’ll take it,” Boyer replied. “Merry Christmas, thank you.”
The vote was particularly surprising given Georgantas’ position during the board’s Aug. 27 meeting, when a group of residents who showed up to express their support for the name change convinced the chairman that the matter should be left for the town to decide as a warrant article.
Georgantas said the combination of public discussion about the matter and his desire to quickly settle the debate caused him to change his mind about putting it to a town warrant vote.
“There’s been a lot of talk about it, so I’ve been thinking about it a lot,” he said. “I just didn’t want any more warrants. We’ve got enough stuff on our plan now, so let’s just get it out of the way. A lot of people have been asking for it, so we’ll just take care of it now.”
Boyer said she wasn’t sure what brought about Georgantas change of heart, but went on to say that she believed the vote represented “a positive move forward for the community.”
Town Administrator Adam Jacobs had previously stated the name change will be an easy alteration to make, with updates to things like the the town website possible within a week and the cost of new stationery and other printed goods costing no more than $200.
With Monday night’s vote, Goffstown joins at least 40 other Granite State communities that have a gender-neutral name for their elected governing board.
Other New Hampshire municipalities with a select board include Barrington, Plymouth, Exeter and Hopkinton.
Asked about the resolution to request the name change she made last summer, Hewes said she was delighted that the elected officials had made “the right decision.”
“Goffstown can now help steer the inclusive change that’s already begun across the state,” said Hewes.