By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILMANTON — In a second overthrow in as many years, two selectmen voted Monday to oust Michael Jean as chairman, installing Selectman Steve McWhinnie as the new chairman.
Jean was the one who engineered a similar take down of former chairman Don Guarino in 2015 after a screaming match between Guarino and former board member Rachel Hatch.
Jean said Tuesday that he will continue as selectman until his term ends in 2018.
According to Jean, the ongoing complaints made by Brett and Brenda Currier about the way the selectmen handle themselves and their accusations against Selectman Marshall Bishop and the Gilmanton Winery are behind the recent push.
Jean said that while he agrees that Bishop, who owns the Gilmanton Winery, has the necessary permits he needs from the state Department of Environment Services to continue operating his business, he still supports the Currier's rights to address the board about what they think are inconsistencies in Bishop's business.
"When they make appointments to appear on the agenda and stay within their allotted time, they should be allowed to speak," Jean said.
Jean said Marshall, who made the motion to oust him, was tired of being "beat up" in public by the Curriers, but Jean said he thinks getting tossed around a little bit is part of being a selectman and a publicly elected official.
Bishop said the reason he made the motion to oust Jean was not because he didn't like him but because "We need a person to make the meeting run smoothly."
"I had to think about this for a long time," said Bishop, who added that he thinks Jean is a smart man but thinks McWhinnie will make the meetings more productive.
He said he is trying to keep his personal opinions about the things the Curriers say publicly about his business to himself but that the "last two weeks have been pretty tough on me."
Bishop said he agrees that the Curriers or any residents should be allowed to address the board but says it should not be a rehash of old business and that it should be done respectfully.
When asked if he consulted with McWhinnie about Jean's ouster, he said he hadn't but had told McWhinnie he was very tired about a month ago.
"I have seven months left and then I'm done," he said, adding the selectmen are there to help the taxpayers, not the "groups of taxpayers."
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