Locals 'Shocked' by Way Selectmen Fill Vacant Seat

There was little discussion before a candidate who hasn't spoken in public was chosen Monday.

The uncertainty surrounding the vacant seat on the Hampton Board of Selectmen came to an end Monday night, as Hampton Budget Committee member Mike Plouffe was appointed to the position vacated by Ben Moore.

Selectmen voted 3-0-1 in favor of Plouffe, a former selectman, after selectmen had no public discussion about any of the four candidates. Chairman Dick Nichols and members Mary-Louise Woolsey and Mike Pierce voted in favor of Plouffe — who is the only one of the four candidates not to have spoken at any public session, including Monday's, about his desire and vision for the position.

Phil Bean, whose controversial removal as board chairman prompted Moore to resign, abstained from the vote.

Woolsey made the motion to nominate Plouffe after stating that the town was "exceptionally fortunate" to have former selectmen Rick Griffin and Brian Warburton, as well as Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire President Dave Lang express interest in the position.

Griffin, Lang and Warburton all spoke about their qualifications and ideologies during Monday's meeting.

Pierce echoed Woolsey's sentiments after seconding her motion, stating that selecting between the candidates would be "tough" and that all four are "very qualified people." No further discussion occurred Monday on the subject, possibly because Woolsey told media members after the meeting that she feels "nitpicking" the qualifications of the various candidates in a public session is "silly" and a "slippery slope."

"Why does [Plouffe] have to be vetted [by or in front of the public]?" said Woolsey, stating that she has "tremendous faith and confidence" in his abilities and said she chose him because she hopes he'll bring a "calm and workman-like approach" to the board. "His name is out there. He's certainly well known in the community."

Those comments came after Woolsey defended her decision to call for Bean to be removed as chairman by stating that the board has "no choice but to do what" they "do in public" even if it can be misconstrued as being "mean" or "rotten."

"I'm not here to fool around," she said. "If something needs to be adjusted, we're going to do. We've got to do it, and if that gets people mad at you, so be it. That's part of that job... but at least the public has to see what's happening, whether they agree or not, whether they understand or not. It's out there in public and it happens."

Resident Diandra Sanphy, who served a one-year term on the Hampton Budget Committee last year alongside then-committee Vice Chairman Woolsey, said she was so outraged at Plouffe's selection and Woolsey’s actions while watching Monday's meeting on her TV that she drove down to voice her "disgust" to the media present.

"Those three people made an effort — an actual effort," said Sanphy, referring to Griffin's, Lang's and Warburton's discussions in public forums and responses to inquiries from local residents about why they sought the position. "How can you appoint someone who hasn't come out [and spoken to the public]?

"I absolutely think that after having served on that budget committee and having watched how things go, he's a rubber stamp for Mary-Louise. I feel like I made a huge mistake in voting for her and putting her in office because I think she's caused more trouble since she's gone on this board… I think people are shocked. I think [selectmen] owe a huge apology to everybody who came out who actually put in time and effort to get on this board."

Other residents weigh in on the vote here.

Lang said after the meeting he has no comments about the individual candidates or statements made by selectmen, and said regardless of the outcome of the appointment that "majority rules" and that it is the board's "job to make a decision. Now it's residents' "job to get behind that decision," he said.

Plouffe has a "proven track record," and has much experience, according to Lang. Lang also said residents have the ability to make a change if they wish at the town meeting elections in March when Nichols, Pierce and Plouffe are all up for reelection, if they decide to run.

Lang hasn't yet decided as of Monday night whether to run for one of the three open seats in March. He said he does plan to float the idea to the public through something he calls the “Hannaford test,” a public information-soliciting process in which he engages often by talking with residents at the local supermarket.

Plouffe is expected to be sworn in ahead of the next selectmen meeting on Monday, June 24.

rob June 19, 2013 at 10:19 PM
excellent idea miss sanphy,you have my vote!
North of Boston Animal Rescue, Inc. June 20, 2013 at 05:56 AM
Mr. Jones that is only one part of my statement. In the very next section I describe in some detail as to why a city/town council works for you, not special interests. It is my desire to hold several public meetings with residents to discuss my findings and to develop a plan should voters decide to move from a Board of Selectmen/women to a Town Manager with District Council Representatives or a Mayor with District Council Representatives. Monday night I will not be seeking signatures for the petition warrant article, as instead I feel it would be prudent and more appropriate to obtain names and email addresses of those interested in pursuing this change to have discussions first. I will still be proposing this as a warrant article for voting in March, but I wish to gather feedback and provide information on how this change in government can help Hampton achieve many of the necessary goals we are so desperately in need of reaching to make this the best place to live, raise children, provide excellence in education, as well as a year round destination for visitors and their families.
Christine Iannuzzo June 23, 2013 at 01:04 PM
I think this is perfect, You should also reach out to the media to have folks show up and sign this petition. We should have a election for all of them every two years at the same time and I could not agree more having a council and mayor. We can all complain however we have voted each one in. The Hampton residents need to get out and vote in March and also if they can step up to the plate and run for office. We can not have the same people running for office over & over again. I do not know one person on the board, I do watch this meeting every week. I can tell you the lack of respect for each other is just terrible, with the present board and past. I did think that Mr. Bean & Mr. Moore would be a nice change of atmosphere to the group. I was disappointed to see Mr. Bean removed from chair and ever more disappointed to see Mr. Moore resign. The people voted for Mr. Moore and even in troubled times would of expected more, With that said after that meeting I think the frustration pushed him to the limit. Again I do not know anyone on this board, I only know what I see every week. I do vote and like to see what is going on. It is up to the people of Hampton to get out and vote if they feel strongly about any candidate that is running. If Diandra is going to have that petition for mayor and council, I will come by the office and sign it. Hope to see everyone in March, with some new names on signs. Wishing the board the best, as well as a Thank You for your time
rob June 23, 2013 at 08:51 PM
my beliefs are the reason Lang wasn't picked is because he's a union man and mark my words,i can guarantee that if Lang runs in march,when the infamous yellow sheet comes out it will say not to vote for him because he has to much to do with unions!
Christine Iannuzzo June 24, 2013 at 06:57 PM
Diandra, I would have to agree with you here regarding a city council and mayor. I would be happy to help out and support you as well. Regarding the meetings a couple of weeks ago and the new appointment is just another reason why it would be a great idea. Had someone resigned on the council the position would go to the person who was shy of the votes on election day. It is what the people of Hampton had voted for. I do not know one person on this board, I have voted and listened to most meetings every week. What I have watched with this board & some of the past isn't acceptable. That is why I vote. The lack or respect for each other is horrible. You would not survive in business with that attitude. With that said, we have voted them in, we have to support them. I hope come March each & every person in the town will come out and vote. I hope to see new names on the ballot, both new & old residents need to step up to the plate and put the time in as the members of this board has done. I have a great respect for all of them. It us up to make a change.


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