Kelly Thomas Ward 12 school board vacancy will remain open until August

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 Kelly Thomas with her two oldest children, as pictured during her 2017 campaign for School Board.

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Ward 12 will remain without a Board of School Committee member for at least the next few weeks.

On Tuesday, the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) opposed a motion by Alderman Kevin Cavanaugh (Ward 1) to temporarily fill the spot on the Manchester Board of School Committee (BOSC) last week by Ward 12’s Kelly Thomas with Ken Roy.

Cavanaugh said that Roy’s resume came forward, although it did not appear in the packet for the meeting posted on the city’s website.

When discussing the nomination, Cavanaugh noted the limited summer schedule for the BMA and the need to fill the vacancy on the BOSC prior to the beginning of the school year when the BOSC will return from its truncated summer schedule.

Alderman Joseph Kelly Levasseur (At-Large) opposed the nomination, citing the generally accepted practice of the Alderman from the Ward where the resignation took place recommending a temporary replacement. Ward 12 Alderman Keith Hirschmann was absent on Tuesday and sent correspondence asking for a delay until he could attend and offer a nomination on Aug. 3

However, the tradition is not always followed, as the BMA has been deadlocked in the past, and earlier this year Levasseur asked for a delay on Cavanaugh’s recommendation to nominate Julie Turner to fill a vacancy on the BOSC from Ward 1 to seek more resume submissions. Turner would eventually fill the vacancy.

Kevin Cavanaugh on July 6, 2021. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

In response to this, Levasseur said that as an at-large Alderman, he is technically entitled to be construed as an Alderman from Ward 1 (or any other ward) in regard to the tradition.

Alderman Bill Barry (Ward 10) believed it was appropriate to wait until the next meeting, but nominations could be provided if Hirschmann did not provide candidates at that point. Alderman Barbara Shaw (Ward 9) later reiterated this viewpoint.

Alderman Anthony Sapienza also believed that Hirschmann should be allowed to put forth names in August, although he found Levasseur’s comment “amusing” given the times in the past when the precedent was violated.

“If we really truly respect it, having the Aldermen making the nomination, we wouldn’t have those battles, so that’s a bunch of partisan baloney,” said Sapienza.

Alderman Sebastian Sharonov (Ward 6) joked that there have always been at-large BOSC members, referring to his charter amendment asking for expedited special elections following Aldermanic vacancies earlier in the meeting. In that discussion, opponents of his proposal noted that at-large members of the BMA still represent the wards without a ward-specific Alderman during the vacancy.

The motion failed, 9-2. Cavanaugh and Pat Long (Ward 3) voted in favor of the motion. Hirschmann and Jim Roy (Ward 4) were absent.