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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.

Linda Desjardins June 18, 2013 at 10:27 AM
"Transparent," "in public view," "up front" - all the words used to describe the "in public" appointment of a selectman to the vacant spot. So if it was open and public, how come the buzz on the beach all day was that Plouffe's being appointed was a foregone conclusion? How open is it if the selected candidate never expressed interest in public nor provided a rationale for his being appointed? This is politics at it's worst: decisions made behind the scene trying to masquerade as being transparent. In a way that's right: we all see right through it. We have a stacked deck right now. March cannot come soon enough!
DDelskis June 18, 2013 at 11:56 AM
"Nit-picking", seriously! Mary-Louise is the Queen of Nit-picking!!! It was done in a way that was not transparent, interviews and questioning were done out of the public's view. Do these selectmen believe that the public is so ignorant that we couldn't possibly figure out that this was all orchestrated from the beginning?
karin breen June 18, 2013 at 12:20 PM
You are 100% right on We have to take back control in March
Jim Workman June 18, 2013 at 12:36 PM
Well, that didn't take long at all, now did it. There should never have been any doubt that the "fix" was in since day one. Mrs. Woolsey is, and has always been, about securing as much power and control for herself as she could. The appointment of Mr. Plouffe only serves that end. It is not now, nor has it ever been, about the town of Hampton or its citizens. This past march, she was counting on the short memory of the voters, and it worked. Do not forget that the last time these two served on the Board of Selectmen together, the taxpayers had to pick up the tab for a $125,000 going away present they approved for a town manager who stood in her way (and, by the way, was going to leave on his own). If I was Mr. Welch, I'd be on the watch for her next Machiavellian move. Mr. Nichols has previously publicly stated that he'd like the town manager job, and that would fee the Chair position for Mrs. Woolsey.
Helen Morgenstern June 18, 2013 at 12:38 PM
They should have picked Mr Lang as he has never been on the board and does not have an agenda. Mary Louise and Dick Nichols master plan is now in place. Next phase get Fred out as town manager (rumor around he is looking elsewhere now to get out of the chaos) vote Nichols in than field clear for Mary Louise to be chairperson. Please Mr Bean get over your anger and get back to business on the board. It will be difficult but hopefully in March you will get some help.
Bandofotters June 18, 2013 at 01:42 PM
Ah, the old "slippery slope"! Right up there with "national security". At least when it comes to the understanding of "transparency" we are in lock-step with the Feds.
Sharron June 18, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Love this page and hope the next six month will be pleasant for the whole board and better the community
Sharron June 18, 2013 at 02:06 PM
Have read the patch befor but unable to get into it till now can't wait
Jack Jordan June 18, 2013 at 02:29 PM
It has always been Woolsey's way or nothing, she has her own agender and will stop at nothing to get it done, I am glad I don't live in Hampton any more.. Stay the course Phil..
Jane Marzinzik June 18, 2013 at 03:19 PM
FYI - Mr. Plouffe will not be sworn in at next Monday's meeting. He was sworn in this morning in the Town Clerk's Office.
Kyle Stucker (Editor) June 18, 2013 at 03:32 PM
Thanks, Jane. What I meant by "sworn in ahead" of the next meeting is that he would be sworn in well before the meeting day, or in other words that the ceremony would happen in advance of the meeting — not that it would happen at the start of the meeting.
Denyse Richter June 18, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Everyone seems to forget what set last night's appointment into motion - the resignation of Ben Moore. With all due respect to Mr. Moore and with complete understanding and appreciation for his not wanting to be part of the "circus," there probably isn't an elected official that hasn't wanted to quit and disassociate themselves with the b/s and politics that prevent the real work from getting done. When a person runs for and is elected to office, however, it is for the good, the bad and the ugly. Walking away doesn't serve anyone, least of all the people who elected you to office. This whole situation is exactly why it is so difficult to get good, reasonable, thinking people to run for office.
Helen Morgenstern June 18, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Not exactly correct. What set it all in motion was the sudden probably preplanned motion by Mary Louise to remove Mr Bean and seconded in a flash by Mr Pierce. Even though the meetings have been getting longer and more stressful , I think this took Mr Bean and Mr Moore totally by surprise. You could see it in their faces. I agree Mr Moore should not have resigned and I think Mr Bean has to get over it and get back to business.
Florian Kozinczak June 18, 2013 at 05:21 PM
Mary Louise seems to be a bitter woman with her own agenda, vote in a candidate who did not care enough to be heard at the selectman's meeting? Are you kidding me? Shame on you.
Brian L June 18, 2013 at 05:44 PM
One has to wonder....if Plouffe elected to not address the public (voters) and media with his intentions and desire to be appointed to the BOS as all the others "candidates" did....does this mean he doesn't really care what we the public/voters think and will only answer to MLW and Nichols and be the deciding vote in all BOS issues? Really? Appointing a Selectman that doesn't even address the public and ignores requests to do so? Not what I want in a Selectman but consistent with the way things will be run with the current board. Sad day in Hampton.
rob June 18, 2013 at 08:12 PM
i hope no-one forgets how Mr. Nichols broke the code of ethics(the same code of ethics he expects every town employee to abide by) by voting against re-electing Mr.Welch for the managers job because he himself wanted the job. Citizens of hampton,get out and show your power next march when Mr.Nichols selectmans seat is up for re-election!!!
DDelskis June 18, 2013 at 08:40 PM
I believe the plan was to oust Bean as Chairman and that in return he would resign. It didn't go exactly as planned and instead they got Ben Moore to resign, either way the result is the same. I hope people come out to voice their opinion on next Monday night's meeting and I will be there with petition warrant article in hand to sign asking the voters of Hampton to once and for all break-up this "good ole boy network" and go with a Mayor and City Council. With a Mayor and Council (people who represent the residents of their respective district), I believe the people of Hampton will be better served and truly have people they can reach out to when they are in need. In all the research I have done on the different government options, a mayor and council are the best way for Hampton to go.
Stephen LaBranche June 18, 2013 at 11:29 PM
A Mayor and City Council? Oh, yea, that will solve all the problems.Certainly, that would take the politics out of the game. No disrespect, but you must be from Massachusetts...
DDelskis June 19, 2013 at 12:11 PM
No I am from New Hampshire, I live here, work here, pay my taxes here, and my children go to school here. Mayors and city councils are not just a Massachusetts form of government. How much have you researched different forms of government? What is your issue with a change in government type? I don't mean this sarcastically, I would like to know. People are so opposed to change, yet willing to settle for the same old, same old rather than take the chance to possibly improve things for the better. This system of doing business is broke and if I believed it was just a matter of a few good people stepping up and doing what is right for the Town and the tax-payer I wouldn't be suggesting this change, but there are few people who wish to step up because of long hours, no pay, no benefits, etc.... A city council is more representation for you, a mayor must live in the town/city in which he/she governs; thus he/she deals with the same issues, taxes, and so forth as you do. Right now we pay a town manager, town finance director over $100,000 each including benefits who do not live in the town they propose their "business ideals" upon. It also does not take away your rights, as a mayor and city council or town manager and town council (people made up of representatives from YOUR part of town) lead and vote on your behalf, leaving a balanced representation for all, not just those who wish to represent their own agendas as this people are your neighbors, not just politicians!
Citizen Jones June 19, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Diandra --> "but there are few people who wish to step up because of long hours, no pay, no benefits, etc" This statement suggests we should increase their pay, it does not suggest a change in government.
rob June 19, 2013 at 10:19 PM
excellent idea miss sanphy,you have my vote!
DDelskis 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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