Students and Westwood community members will be able to vote for a new neighborhood council May 22.
Westwood Forward, a coalition of students, homeowners and business owners, submitted an application to create a new neighborhood council in December, arguing the current WWNC does not adequately represent students or address their concerns. The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, which oversees neighborhood councils, approved the application in March.
Michael Skiles, Graduate Students Association president and an organizer in the coalition, said the department officially approved the Tuesday, May 22 voting date, and added it will have a vote-by-mail option. Prospective voters can apply for the option starting April 7.
Lisa Chapman, president of the WWNC, said the council would have preferred a weekend date because neighborhood council votes are typically held on weekends. Chapman added she felt the department did not consider the needs of the council and its constituents because she thinks it will be more difficult for working homeowners to vote during the week.
“They just went along with Westwood Forward,” she said.
The department will host two polling places for the votes, Skiles said. One will be held inside the new council’s proposed boundaries, and the other will be held outside the new council’s proposed boundaries but inside the WWNC’s boundaries.
If approved by a majority of voters within the WWNC, the proposed council boundaries and bylaws will be forwarded to the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners for final approval. After this, the North Westwood Neighborhood Council would be established as a certified neighborhood council.
Stakeholders are eligible to vote if they work, live, attend classes or otherwise operate within the WWNC’s boundaries. Voters need to self-affirm their stakeholder status before they can cast a ballot.