Two resign from Orange Selectboard

Staff Writer
Published: 1/10/2020 10:11:24 PM
Modified: 1/10/2020 10:10:44 PM

ORANGE — Two years ago, Orange voters chose to have a five-seat Selectboard.

But, at least one of those seats has been empty for 70 percent of that time.

Wednesday evening, the resignations of two more members of the five-seat Selectboard, which already has a vacancy, were announced.

Tom Smith’s resignation was accepted by the town clerk earlier that day, and was effective immediately.

Bill Wrigley’s resignation, also accepted by the town clerk, is effective March 30, the day of the town election. Thus, the Selectboard will have a quorum at meetings leading up to the election as long as all three sitting members attend.

The resignations leave Selectboard Chair Ryan Mailloux and Vice Chair Jane Peirce the only people who are planning to continue. Peirce is up for reelection, and Mailloux’s term expires next year.

Two seats have been added to the town election ballot: a one-year term on the Selectboard to replace Smith and a two-year term to replace Wrigley.

“Tom is not well,” Peirce explained. “I wish him the best. I feel really, really terrible about both of these resignations.”

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with everyone who has tendered a resignation,” Mailloux said.

Smith told the Greenfield Recorder he resigned because of health reasons and the recent death of his sister, Kristin Harakles.

“I need to focus on my health and I just can’t have any more stress right now,” he said.

Smith was about to enter the final year of the three-year term he was elected to in 2018.

Wrigley did not publicly give a reason for his resignation.

Wrigley was a member of the Orange Selectboard in the late 1990s, when he helped create the Randall Pond Industrial Park as one of the town’s chief executives. The town administrator in Stow, Wrigley chose to run again last year, and did so opposed, hoping he would help the town aggressively pursue economic development.

Wrigley has had some public disagreements with the other sitting members of the Selectboard, including the hiring of the town’s community development director — Wrigley wanted to hire Glen Ohlund, who he said had more experience than Alec Wade, who the other Selectboard members endorsed and hired.

Twenty municipal seats are on the ballot for the upcoming election, including four of the five Selectboard seats — two three-year terms (one currently held by Peirce), a two-year term (Wrigley’s seat) and a one-year term (Smith’s recent seat). While Peirce has announced she is running for reelection, it is up to members of the public to run for office and fill the other seats, Mailloux said.

“As of March 30, there will be four vacancies on the Selectboard. I will be the only member, and I am entering my final year on the Selectboard,” Mailloux said. “I would strongly encourage you to research the process and how it works and what it’s like to be a member of the board. And if it’s something that you’re not interested in participating in, talk to your friends about it, and then at least vote.”

Those who wish to appear on the ballot must take out and return nomination papers, available at the Town Clerk’s Office at Town Hall, 6 Prospect St. The office is open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but closed from 12:30 to 1 p.m. It is also open on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., but closed from noon to 1 p.m.

Nomination papers may be obtained until Thursday, Feb. 6, and must be returned to the town clerk by Monday, Feb. 10.

Since Orange residents increased the Selectboard membership from three to five seats in 2017, there have only been a handful of months when the Selectboard was at full membership.

Prior to the two recent resignations, Selectboard Clerk James Cornwell had resigned in May last year. The Selectboard chose not to hold a special election to fill the seat.

Cornwell did not publicly give a reason for his resignation, stating only, “I refused to be consumed by stress and I refused to be stressed by foolishness.”

The year prior, then-Chair Richard Sheridan resigned without explanation, later explaining health reasons led him to do so, as well as difficulty working with the other members, particularly during the town administrator hiring process. In that case, the Selectboard also did not hold a special election to fill the vacancy.

By the time of the town election, Orange will have had a five-seat Selectboard for 25 months, and 17.5 of those months will have had at least one vacancy.

Timeline of vacancies

October 2017 — Residents vote to increase Selectboard membership from three to five at Special Town Meeting.

March 5, 2018 — The Selectboard has five sitting members for the first time due to the town election: Richard Sheridan, Ryan Mailloux, James Cornwell, Tom Smith and Jane Peirce.

May 2, 2018 — Richard Sheridan resigns. The Selectboard remains with four members for the next 10 months.

March 4, 2019 — Bill Wrigley is elected, and the Selectboard is back to full membership.

May 2019 — James Cornwell delivers his resignation to the town clerk. The Selectboard does not hold an election to fill the vacancy.

Jan. 8, 2020 — Tom Smith resigns. Bill Wrigley announced his resignation, effective March 30.




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