Hawley elects Sears as selectman
John Sears of Hawley
Robert Root of Hawley has his vote tallied at the Hawley Town Hall on Tuesday by volunteers Christina Hicks and Tammy Schofield.
HAWLEY — With a voter turnout of about 72 percent, residents made John Sears their newest selectman. He handily won the three-way election race with 92 votes, while 51 votes were cast for candidate Charles Stetson and 34 for Hussain Hamdan.
A crowd of residents gathered outside the town office, waiting for election results and the subsequent selectmen’s meeting to follow.
At around 8 p.m., Town Clerk Lisa Turner read the election results, and immediately swore in Sears and newly elected Assessor Rick Kean, who received 79 votes.
Then she announced her own resignation.
“I don’t think I have ever quit anything,” said Turner, who was elected to her position in 2011. “But, as of tonight, it’s different.” Turner said she is resigning immediately. “I don’t care to work with this new administration.”
As she started to walk away, Hamdan stood up and said, “Let me give you this, before you go.” And Hamdan proceeded to read his letter of resignation from the Hawlemont Regional School Committee and its subcommittees.
Last month, Hamdan told the school board he would resign his School Committee seat if elected selectman. He did not imply that his resignation had anything to do with the outcome of the selectman’s race.
Turner’s partner, Tedd White, was elected to the Board of Selectmen last May, and he and Chairman Phillip Keenan have disagreed over many issues, especially after the death of Selectman Richard Desmarais in December.
Sears had said he ran for election “because of the bitter division of the town that the dispute about the Chickley River has created.”
Before the election —because of differences between Chairman Phillip Keenan and White, only essential items, such as bill-paying, have been performed by the board until a third selectman was in place.
As of press time, the new three-member board, with Sears seated in the middle, unanimously agreed to release the executive-session meeting minutes of the settlement negotiations concerning the Chickley River repair and restoration. They also discussed the ongoing disagreements between Keenan and White concerning the accuracy of selectmen’s meeting minutes and whether the board should start recording its meetings, to help settle disagreements about what was said.
They briefly discussed the hours and duties of the town administrator Virginia Gabert, and Sears suggested she write up a job description that they could discuss, since her duties have changed over the 20 years she has held her job.
Keenan noted that the Board of Selectmen is behind in its work, and that losing a town clerk just before annual election as well as a School Committee member will make their jobs more demanding.