Aldermen push back on mayor’s ZBA appointment request

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Planning and Community Development Department Director Leon LaFreniere on March 20, 2018

MANCHESTER, NH –Normally, mayoral appointments are a minor part of Aldermanic meetings. That was not the case on Tuesday.

The Manchester Board of Aldermen pushed back against Mayor Joyce Craig’s confirmation request of Matthew Sink to replace Allen Hendershot on the Manchester Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Instead, they argued for a traditional precedent that vacant appointed positions on government boards generally go to those serving as alternates on those boards.

In this particular instance, several Aldermen voiced their support for Jim Roy, a current alternate on the ZBA with previous experience on the Planning Board and as an Alderman following a career as a fire fighter in the city.

Craig challenged the tradition, stating that positions on city government boards should go to those who will best serve the city, citing Sink’s decades of work as an employee of the city, serving as deputy director of the Department of Planning and Community Development for nearly 20 years.

She also told the board that Roy did not submit a resume in application to replace Hendershot.

The Aldermen did not dispute the qualifications of either Roy or Sink, but those opposed to the mayor’s nomination indicated possible morale issues if alternates were not given promotions as rewards for their work in aiding boards as non-voting members while learning the nuances of those boards.

Alderman-at-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur, an ex-officio member of the Planning Board, noted a similar situation regarding Raymond Hebert’s appointment to the Planning Board.

Although Levasseur had respect for Hebert’s abilities, he eventually convinced Hebert to begin as an alternate instead.

“They sat on that job, they learned that job,” said Levasseur of former alternates on the Planning Board, eventually elevated into full-voting membership. “It’s kind of a reward when you sit there as an alternate that long, you get a promotion.”

No Aldermen directly supported the mayor’s nominee, although some ceded to the fact that it is within the mayor’s purview to submit nominees to the Board of Aldermen at their discretion.

In particular, Ward 3 Alderman Tim Baines noted that if the Aldermen rejected Sink, the mayor has the authority to nominate Sink again. Alderman-at-Large Dan O’Neil also shared the recollection of Planning and Community Development Department Director Leon LaFreniere that some appointees in the past had “skipped over” being alternates, although it was rare.

Ward 10 Alderman Bill Barry made a motion to establish a committee on studying whether it was the accepted policy in the past to require appointees to be alternates and Ward 9 Alderman Barbara Shaw believed that it may be appropriate to codify a requirement for all board members to first serve as alternates, as she believed it was an important city precedent.

Ward 5 Alderman Tony Sapienza challenged Barry’s motion, stating that the Alderman had more important matters to deal with and they should move forward one way or the other. Ultimately, Barry’s motion was considered out-of-order by the mayor, who eventually requested a motion on all of the individuals to be confirmed to city boards.

After confusion over whether the motion would allow for the approval of all the confirmations other than Sink, the mayor eventually modified her request to approve board confirmations, removing Sink from the list.

That motion was unanimously approved by the Aldermen.

The other confirmations included Donald Jorgensen to the Airport Authority, Richard Roberts to the Building Board of Appeals and re-appointments of John Bisson to the Personnel Appeals Board and Michael Simoneau to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

 

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