These men had charge of the day-to-day operations; selectmen were important in legislating policies central to a community's police force, highway supervisors, poundkeepers, field drivers, and other officials. However, the larger towns grew, the more power would be distributed among other elected boards, such as fire wardens, and police departments. For example, population increases led to the need for actual police departments, of which selectmen typically became the commissioners. The advent of tarred roads and automobile traffic led to a need for full-time highway maintainers and plowmen, leaving selectmen to serve as Supervisors of Streets and Ways.
The term "selectman" is gender neutral. Some towns and journalist style manuals use terms not defined in state statutes such as "Selectwoman," "Selectperson," and "Select Board." In all states the statutes use masculine forms such as Selectmen, Board of Selectmen, or First Selectman and these are the proper terms to use -- neutral in regards to the sex of the office holder(s), but consistent with the grammatical gender used in statutes.
In larger towns, most of the selectmen's traditional powers are entrusted to a full-time town administrator or town manager. In some towns, the Board of Selectmen acts more like a city council, but retains the historic name.
In some places, such as Connecticut, the head of the Board of Selectmen is the First Selectman, who historically has served as the chief administrative officer of the town and may be elected separately from the rest of the board. Sometimes this is a part-time position, with larger towns hiring a full-time town administrator, who answers to the First Selectman. In some towns and cities, the First Selectman exercises the powers typically associated with mayors. In Massachusetts, the presiding selectman is usually called the chairman and is chosen annually by his or her fellow selectmen.
Eight vying for 2 seats in Hollis ; Several seek to rebuild public trust in the Board of Selectmen in the wake of a recall election.
Jan 14, 2006; SETH HARKNESS Staff Writer Portland Press Herald (Maine) 01-14-2006 Eight vying for 2 seats in Hollis ; Several seek to rebuild...
Raymond voters to choose selectmen, vote on budgets ; Three candidates are running for two open seats on the town's Board of Selectmen.
May 17, 2007; JUSTIN ELLIS Staff Writer Portland Press Herald (Maine) 05-17-2007 Raymond voters to choose selectmen, vote on budgets ; Three...