Budget Committee Member Criticizes Way Vacancy Filled

HAMPSTEAD – While last week’s Budget Committee meeting was supposed to be strictly to re-assign liaison seats following the resignation of one member and the approval of his replacement, the way in which that replacement was handled irked member Proctor Wentworth, and he let the committee know how he felt.
After liaison assignments were set and chairman Matt Murphy asked if there was any other business, Wentworth announced that he had something to say.

He made it clear that he didn’t like the way the appointment of Chris Howe was handled. “Two of us on the committee never knew about the vacancy or were notified about filling it,” he said. Wentworth said Murphy had not followed the accepted procedure of notifying all the committee members and asking the public for volunteers to fill the open position. He said it was not the right thing to do to have Murphy’s brother, Sean Murphy, chairman of the selectmen, nominate Howe for the position at the selectmen’s meeting.

“I think the whole thing was railroaded,” Wentworth said. Member Ann Howe, who is Chris Howe’s wife, said she and Matt Murphy didn’t know about the vacancy until just before the meeting but agreed with Wentworth that things probably weren’t done quite right. Wentworth was upset that the nomination and appointment of Howe was pushed at the selectmen’s meeting without ever being put out to the public. However, he noted Selectwoman Priscilla Lindquist had suggested tabling the final decision until the next meeting two weeks later, which the board did. Wentworth said, however, that typically a month is set to ensure the public has time to come up with volunteers.

Wentworth said he was upset because the process and protocol were not followed. He said there was no emergency and no need to rush things through. “In addition to the process, I am against and always have been against allowing two people from the same household to be on a committee,” he said. “I don’t think two people in the same family living in the same house should be on a board.”

There had been objections to this voiced at the selectmen’s meeting that ultimately approved the nomination of Chris Howe 2-1. However, Ann Howe and Murphy said that Chris Howe should get the open seat because he had run for the board in March and was the first to step forward to fill the vacancy when Jorge Mesa-Tejada resigned.
Matt Murphy apologized to Wentworth and admitted things hadn’t gone quite as they should have. He added that he hoped everyone learned from the situation and that it was time to move forward

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