Essex Junction 2018 annual meeting

An Essex Junction resident speaks during the village annual meeting in 2018.

ESSEX JUNCTION — At the last annual meeting, Essex Junction residents voted to hold the 2023 Annual Meeting on April 5 – the first night of Passover.

After some City residents voiced concern about the selected date, which those practicing Passover would not be able to attend, the city council is working to change the meeting date.

In the Jewish tradition, there are special prohibitions on the first and last two days of Passover, which fall on April 5-6 and April 12-13 this year, including work restrictions.

Normally an oversight like this could not be corrected, but because of a bill passed by Gov. Scott on Jan. 25, the City can correct the error.

Bill H.42 extends COVID-19 election rules which includes allowing a municipal legislative body to vote to push back the date of an annual meeting. 

“This bill is not necessarily intended to change an annual meeting in our situation, but it allows us to change an annual meeting in our situation,” City Manager Regina Mahony said at the Jan. 25 City Council meeting, putting emphasis on the word “allows.”

A long-time Vermont tradition, annual meetings are held each spring in cities, towns and villages to discuss local budgets and ballot issues. 

The City faces some challenges to moving the date. It cannot move the date sooner, and it must choose a day Essex High School is available. The meeting also cannot be later than the voting date of April 11.

The City also wants to avoid April 6 as that is the second night of Passover.

“Also, in researching this topic, it is important to note that hosting meals during fasting times (Ramadan, Yom Kippur, Lent) isn’t ideal for more inclusive and equitable participation,” Mahony stated in her memo to the council.

The City is currently considering if it will hold the annual dinner as it did before COVID, Ashley Snellenberger, city communications & strategic initiatives director, told the Reporter. In the past, these dinners happened before the information meeting. 

Staff recommend City Council vote to move the Annual Meeting date to April 10, which will meet the necessary election criteria and allow for those who celebrate Passover to participate. In addition, the meeting would fall outside of Lent. 

Essex High School is technically available April 10, though this is also when EWSD is hosting its information meeting night.

“That in and of itself does not necessarily mean it's a total conflict and we can't do this; it could potentially open up the opportunity to collaborate … It's more logistics,” Mahony said.

All City Council members expressed their desire to move the annual meeting date and had flexibility for when it could be moved.

A vote was not made at the Jan. 25 meeting because City Council President Andrew Brown was expected to meet with School Board Chair Erin Kennedy Knox Jan. 28 to discuss the details.

“We did not intend for this to happen. We intend to make it right and for it not to happen again,” City Council Vice President Raj Chawla said.

Watch the full meeting here.

Written By

Staff Writer

Kate Vanni | she/her/hers | Reporter | Kate covers Town of Essex and City of Essex Junction municipal meetings, schools and local businesses through written and visual storytelling. Reach her at (802)-448-0253


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