GILMANTON — Selectmen decided last night to hold open interviews with the three people who expressed a desire to fill the seat left vacant when Steve McCormack resigned. The interviews will be conducted on Tuesday, July 28 at 6 p.m.
The decision to interview Brett Currier, Brian Forst and Rachael Hatch came after Chair Don Guarino reviewed the pertinent state laws, the town's own policies, and the procedure used the last time two board members needed to fill a vacancy.
"I think we should take our time," said Selectman Michael Jean. "It's an important decision."
Guarino said he wanted to make it sooner than later but agreed another week wouldn't be too burdensome.
Jean made his statements after letters of interests that were submitted by Forst and Currier were read aloud. Both were at the meeting but Hatch was unable to attend. Guarino said Hatch didn't submit a letter but both he and Jean determined she was a qualified applicant.
Forst, who is the chair of the Budget Committee said he would like to fill the vacancy until March elections because he has served on the board before, is the chair of the Budget Committee, and is familiar with the way the town if operated. Forst said he would step down as Budget Committee chair should he be chosen.
Currier, who served a three-year term that ended in March but nevertheless mounted a last-minute writ- in campaign and finished second, wrote that tradition in Gilmanton says the person who finished second in the last election should be named to the open seat. He cited the time that Hatch was the second vote getter to David Clairmont who died while in office. Hatch filled his term and went on to win a full term at the next election.
He also said that he had stayed involved in the town, serves on the road committee and was often the only member of the public at many board meetings.
Two letters of support for Currier were read to the public — both saying he had the necessary expertise to fill the vacancy and both cited previous tradition in town.
There were also two nearly identical letters sent by two townspeople who didn't want Currier to sit on the board because his son was going to be police chief, beginning in January.
Both said Sgt. Matt Currier was an excellent supervisor and would make an excellent chief but felt he would do better if he was chief without having to answer to his father, who would be his direct supervisor if he was named selectman. The writers said it was different during Currier's last term because Joe Collins was (and is) chief and Matt Currier worked for him.
Guarino read the state's nepotism rules but noted that when he called the local government center for advice on the Curriers, he was told that in some small towns in New Hampshire it was not unusual to have similar potential conflicts of interest. During the time Currier was selectmen, he was careful to recuse himself from any police department business that involved his son.
Next week's interviews begin at 6 p.m. and only the selectmen and Town Administrator Paul Branscombe — who officially starts Monday but who sat in on last night's meeting — will be asking questions.
Guarino said the interviews will be the first thing on next week's agenda and the interviews can be attended by the public but there will be no public input during that time. The regular business meeting of the board will begin after the interviews.
Neither Guarino or Jean said definitively whether or not the board would make their decision next week but it is anticipated an appointment will be made then.
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