LACONIA — Mayor Andrew Hosmer is denying claims that he has moved permanently out of the city and is now a resident of Gilford.
Hosmer said he is in the process of selling his house on Summit Avenue in Laconia and that he and his family recently purchased a house on Governors Island, where he has been staying until he can move into a house on Parker Street, which he said will become his permanent residence.
Hosmer said he purchased the Parker Street property four months ago and said the Parker Street house would be ready for occupancy by the end of the week.
The mayor said his wife and four teenage children would continue to live in the Governors Island house.
Hosmer’s explanation came as Laconia School Board member Dawn Johnson challenged the mayor’s residency, and called on him to resign immediately.
“If that’s where he rests his head, that’s his domicile,” Johnson said, referring to the Gilford address. She said state law requires elected officials to live in the community they represent. She said she would be raising the issue of Hosmer’s residency at next Monday’s City Council meeting. “I’m calling him out on this,” she said.
Hosmer said the home on Summit Avenue went up for sale on Sunday. It has not been sold, he said. The family had moved out of the house beforehand in order to get it ready to be shown to potential buyers, he explained.
He said he and his wife purchased the Governors Island home in conjunction with his wife’s new career in real estate investment. He said it was uncertain whether they would own the property long-term, or if it will be renovated and then resold.
But he stressed that once he moves into the Parker Street property he will be living there full-time.
He declined to discuss the arrangement, but did say, “I think there are various points in people’s lives where we should be respecting privacy in people’s lives. Unfortunately,” he continued, “there are people who choose to weaponize situations like this, but that’s the nature of politics in the 21st century.”
Hosmer acknowledged that his living situation had lately become a matter of interest in some circles. He said in recent days he had seen cars with legislative plates frequently driving slowly past the Governors Island property. On Tuesday morning at dawn he said one such car accelerated toward him as he was walking his dog. He said he had hoped not to have to report the incident to police.
“We’ve had issues with folks surveilling the house with legislative plates (on their vehicles),” he said.
Johnson said her challenge of Hosmer’s residency was not motivated by politics, but out of fair play. She noted that earlier this year Stacey Sirois resigned from the School Board because she was moving out of Ward 4, which she represented.
“We just had one School Board member who did the same thing. Why should he be any different?” Johnson said.
The City Charter states that in order for someone to serve as mayor that person must be qualified to vote in the city.
Hosmer said he has no problem with Johnson raising the issue at next Monday’s council meeting, which will be entirely remote, on Zoom.
“Citizens have a right to raise whatever issue they want. That really doesn't concern me,” he said.
Johnson said she had not contacted the mayor directly to voice her concerns.
“I’ve been too busy with the School Board,” she said.
Hosmer said the current situation could in part be due to the fallout from last year’s mayoral race when Hosmer, a Democrat who once served in the state Senate, ran against state Rep. Peter Spanos, a Republican.
“Some people haven't moved beyond the election and have gone out of their way to sort of settle a score. This pattern of behavior that is disconcerting,” he said.