LACONIA — Belknap County Convention chairman Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) says that the convention will follow an open process in seeking to fill the vacancy on the Belknap County Commission, which is being created by the mid-term resignation of Commissioner Steve Nedeau (R-Meredith)
Citing differences with newly-elected members of the commission, Nedeau resigned effective January 1 at a meeting of the commission last week. Choice of Need's successor will be up to the convention, which under state law 661, section 661:9, is empowered to fill vacancies on county commissions.
The law reads: "II. (a) If a vacancy occurs in the office of a county commissioner, the members of the county convention shall fill the vacancy by majority vote until the next biennial election of county officers. If the term filled is less than the unexpired term, then notwithstanding any provisions of RSA 653:1, VI, the commissioner district filled pursuant to this paragraph shall be added to the next biennial election ballot to be chosen by the voters of the county for a 2-year term.''
Nedeau, who was first elected to the commission for a two-year term in 2010 and elected to a four-year term in 2012, had two years left in his current term. He represents District 3, which includes the towns of Alton, Center Harbor, Gilford and Meredith. His successor will have to be a resident of one of those towns.
Tilton said the convention will decide what process to follow when it meets in January. ''We'll advertise for candidates and set a deadline for them to apply and conduct open interviews with them before making a decision.''
He said that the convention will decide if it wants to have the entire convention involved in the interview process or whether it wants a committee to handle that part of the process. In either case interviews with applicants will be conducted in open sessions he said.
Nedeau had served as chairman of the county convention when it hired Craig Wigeon as sheriff in 2007 to replace Dan Collies. The procedure was challenged by activists Doug Lambert and Tom Taridif because the votes were not taken in public and they won a court decision which forced the county to have recorded public votes by convention members.
The procedure used by the convention will be required to meet the public vote standard set by the state Supreme Court in the Lambert-Tardif ruling.
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