Selectmen Argue Over Chairmanship Seat

March 21, 2014
by S. Aaron Shamshoyan

At the first selectman’s meeting since the election, a question about fairness was raised, causing a debate.

On Monday, Selectman Stephen Campbell motioned to elect Selectman Patrick Hargreaves as chair, current Chairman Everett McBride as vice chair, and himself as secretary.

Selectman James Keller objected to the proposal saying he wanted a chance to lead the board citing his campaign platform and leadership experience.

“I ran on a platform of a new approach,” Keller said.  “There’s no desire to see the new approach,” he said about the proposal.

Hargreaves served the board as chairman in 2012, and Keller felt there should be a rotation of leadership.

“Repetitive authority or power leads to outcomes that aren’t necessarily desirable,” Keller said.  “I’d like a shot.”

Keller said Hargreaves left him a voicemail Monday morning regarding the election of officers scheduled for the meeting.  “The first part of the statement was that Pat didn’t believe that I had the interests of Steve Campbell at heart; that was the basis of the voicemail,” Keller said.  “I didn’t believe that that was what the chairmanship job was about.”

Selectman Michael Lyons said his concerns were with the stability in the town manager’s office.  “Mr. Hickey does a good job,” he said.

Lyons said Hargreaves was effective in being sure a single selectman did not monopolize the town manager.  “I thought you did an excellent job,” Lyons told Hargreaves, but said those policies were no longer being followed.

Lyons noted Hickey was interviewing for a position the following day as Dracut’s town manager.

Hargreaves responded saying he never received a phone call from Keller seeking his support for chairmanship over the weekend.  He also added that multiple calls to Lyons had not been returned.

The board approved Campbell’s motion with Lyons opposed and Keller abstaining.