With its 59,121 residents, Brookline is the largest town in Massachusetts. The Town Meeting structure does not encompass the diversity of Brookline. City government holds its members more accountable. Without a single executive (such as a mayor or city manager), our government has often failed to act quickly or respond effectively to a crisis.

Brookline Public Library


  • The Town Meeting structure does not encompass the diversity of Brookline. It is not representative of the community because those who can afford, in terms of availability and time, to serve in Town Meeting disproportionately get their voices heard.

  • A city provides opportunities for communities that are often overlooked to be heard.

Brookline Municipal Court


  • Town government in New England was designed for small communities with very few residents that existed centuries ago– not for our modern municipalities.

  • With its 59,121 residents, Brookline is the largest town in Massachusetts. It is also the largest town in America with a Representative Town Meeting. This form of government is not designed for a community of our size.

  • Our large legislative body, Town Meeting, is made up of 248 members. Decision-making in this model is extremely laborious and is not conducive to the substantive progress Brookline residents desperately need.

  • Without a single executive (such as a mayor or city manager), our government has often failed to act quickly or respond effectively to a crisis.



  • City government holds its members more accountable. There is less diffusion of responsibility, and therefore less diffusion of accountability.

  • A city council more evenly balances the principle of active community engagement with the government’s ability to get things done.

  • City government can increase voter turnout in local elections.

  1. Obtain ~7,000 signatures (more than 15% of registered voters) on a petition drive to hold the first of two referendums on the ballot.

  2. The first referendum would be held essentially to gauge support for making Brookline a city (i.e. forming a charter commission). 

  3. We will also elect a charter commission, which researches and proposes different potential forms of municipal government. Candidates for the 9 member charter commission will be on the same ballot as the first referendum.

  4. The second referendum will be held on whether to adopt the commission’s proposed charter (i.e. structure of municipal government).

Town Meeting


  • Consists of 240 (15 members from each of the 16 precincts) elected representatives, select board members, and any state representative or senator who resides in Brookline.

  • The Town Moderator and Town Clerk are also voting members 

    • Town Moderator: presides Town Meeting

    • Town Clerk: acts as administrator

  • There are 248 current members in total

  • Members are elected in staggered 3 year long terms, such that each May election 5 members are elected

  • Meetings are open to the public

Running for Town Meeting

  • At least ⅓ of all positions are open during the annual May election

  • Nomination papers can be obtained from the Town Clerk’s office

  • A minimum of 10 signatures from the precinct in which the candidate is running are required


  • Passing the balanced annual town budget

    • An Annual Town Meeting is held in the spring to enact the following year’s budget and any additional affairs on the Town Meeting warrant placed by the Select Board or citizen’s petition

  • Enacts all town bylaws

  • In the fall, a special Town Meeting is held to handle any budget changes, zoning by-law amendments, or any other affairs on the warrant

Select Board


  • Consists of 5 members who are elected for 3 year terms

  • Have all municipal authority with the exception of anything retained by Town Meeting

  • Appoint the Town Administrator

  • Meet every Tuesday


  • Town Meeting warrants: issue them and make recommendations

  • Implement legislative policy through inserting articles in Town Meeting warrants

  • Implement the subsequently adopted votes

  • Enact town administrative policies

  • Annual operating budget & 6-Year Capital Improvements Program: review and set fiscal guidelines for both

  • Issues recommendations to Town Meeting regarding the budget and the Capital Improvements Program

  • Appoint department heads and members of official boards and commissions (most but not all)

  • Hold public hearings regarding important town issues, conferences with agencies under their jurisdiction and community groups

  • Represent Brookline before the General Court and in all regional and metropolitan affairs

  • Enforce town by-laws and regulations

  • Licensing board: responsible for issuing and renewing licenses in over 20 categories such as, common victualler, food vendor, liquor, lodging house, open-air parking lot, inflammables, special events, and entertainment

Town Administrator: Melvin Kleckner


  • Appointed by the Select Board

  • Makes policy recommendations to the Select Board and to most department heads 

  • Implements policies adopted by the Select Board

  • Acts as supervisor to municipal departments

  • Prepares the annual budget and capital improvement plan

  • Manages Brookline’s business and administrative affairs

Boards and Committees





  • Two types of committees:

    • Standing committees with 3 year terms

    • Ad hoc committees formed for a specific task that will be dissolved once the task is completed and a report is submitted to the Select Board

  • Candidates submit an application to the Select Board and may be invited for an interview

  • There are no set requirements to be a member of a committee, but the following are considered

    • Diversity of the committee should reflect that of Brookline/ the candidate brings a needed perspective/background to the committee

    • Candidates should have a diverse range of ideas, perspectives, opinions, etc.

    • Experience/skills relevant to the specific committee’s area of focus

    • Ability to work as a team and accomplish the committee’s goal