The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) set Sept. 24 as the date for its 2011 election at its May 31 meeting at the First Baptist Church at 633 Centre Street in Jamaica Plain.
The election will be held on Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Polling places will be set up at J.P. Licks at 659 Centre St.; The Forest Hills T Station; and the Jackson Square T Station.
It will largely be run by an ombuds board including former Gazette publisher Sandee Storey; former JP coordinator from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services Colleen Keller; Larry Cronin, a former chair of the JPNC; and JP activist Kim Alleyne.
Council elections are held every two years. The council has 20 seats, five for three “areas” in the neighborhood and five at-large, neighborhood-wide seats.
The three areas are: Area A, which roughly covers Hyde, Jackson and Egleston squares; Area B, east of Centre Street between Egleston and Forest Hills; and Area C, which includes Pondside, Jamaica Hills, Forest Hills and Woodbourne.
Any JP resident over 16 can run for the council. Area candidates have to collect 25 signatures from residents to get their names on the ballot. At-large candidates have together 50 signatures.
Election packets will be available July 8 at the Jamaica Plain, Connolly and Egleston Square branch libraries and at J.P. Licks. Election papers will be due Aug. 5 and papers will be officially verified by Aug. 18. An appeal period will run until Aug. 25, leaving a month for campaigning.
JPNC chair Andrea Howley put out a call for election volunteers at the May 31 meeting. “Volunteers are the most difficult thing,” she said, adding that they particularly need multilingual volunteers to staff the polling places.
The JPNC essentially functions as a JP-wide neighborhood association. One of its most important roles is commenting on local zoning and licensing matters that come before the city. Council committees hold neighborhood hearings on those issues as they come up, and the council as a whole votes eventually votes based on the results of those hearings and the recommendations of the committees. The JPNC’s opinion is normally given a lot of weight by the city zoning and licensing boards.
The council also has a parks and open spaces committee that does park clean up and beautification issues, and a housing and development committee that focuses on housing equity.
The JPNC came under fire earlier this year for controversially voting to oppose Whole Foods’ planned move to Hyde Square. The resolution, declaring that Whole Foods is “not a good fit” for JP, passed 9-8. Since then, the council has backtracked, forming an ad hoc Whole Foods Committee, charged with trying to assess the impacts of Whole Foods likely inevitable move to the neighborhood.