LACONIA — Hunter Taylor of Alton, who 49 years ago was the youngest and lowest paid member of the faculty at the University of Georgia law school, was unanimously appointed by the Belkanp County Convention Monday night to a two-year term as Belknap County Commissioner.
Taylor fills a vacancy created when Steven Nedeau of Meredith resigned effective Jan. 1. as Distict 3 commissioner with two years left in his term.
Taylor is professor emeritus at the Rutgers University School of Law and held his own private practice in New Jersey until he retired in 2010 and moved to the Lakes Region. He had previously served nine years on a New Jersey school board and three years as a land use planning board member.
He has has been a high-profile critic of the previous board of commissioner's plan to build a new county jail, writing any number of long letters on the subject to editors of local newspapers, as well as being critical of the commission in its two-year long legal battle wit the convention over line item budget authority.
He joins new commissioners Richard Burchell of Gilmanton and David DeVoy on the board, both of whom were also critics of the previous commission and whom he endorsed in his letters to the editor.
Taylor joins his wife, Ruth Larson, in holding public office. She is also a retired lawyer and was named to the Gunstock Area Commission a little over two years ago.
He said that he became interested in local politics in 2012 after reading about the dispute between the county convention and the commissioners over line item budget authority in the Laconia Daily Sun. He said that his own reading of the relevant statutes convinced him that the commissioners were wrong.
Taylor also faulted the previous commissioners for what he said was the creation of an aura of crisis and said that the duty of the convention is to represent the taxpayers while that of the commissioners to oversee the day to day operations of the county.
He said that he supports the county jail plan endorsed by both Burchell and DeVoy modeled on Sullivan County's and said that he had always opposed the plans of the former commissioners for more expensive versions, ranging from $42 million down to $25 million.
He noted that Sullivan County had spent $2 million on repairs and upgrades to its old jail and $5 million on a new 72-bed, 20,000 square foot community corrections center.
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