BEDFORD — Councilors have unanimously approved a code of conduct for town boards, committees, commissions and the councilors themselves.
The town has also moved closer to finding a finalist for the town manager job, narrowing the pool to a group of four who will be interviewed on Thursday after being ranked by both councilors and Municipal Resources, Inc., the firm the council hired to spearhead the search.
Once interviews are complete, the council will vote on its top pick and make a conditional offer.
The code of conduct, which has undergone several revisions and generated much discussion among councilors, is meant to encourage civility in those responsible for town business, said Councilor Mac McMahan.
“The code of conduct is not meant to restrict freedom of speech,” McMahan said at the council’s July 18 meeting.
“It is a guideline for people to use civility when exercising their rights for freedom of speech.”
The draft document reads, in part, “The efficient conduct of the Town’s business by the Council and appointed boards requires the need for respect within the various elements of our municipal government. The best way to achieve this positive enforcement is to describe and provide expected standards.”
Those standards include respect for confidentiality, avoiding personal and group criticism, promoting collaborative and collegial behavior and supporting the final decisions made by a majority of a council, committee, board, or commission.
Council Chair Bill Dermody said the council isn’t trying to stifle anyone.
But, he said it’s counterproductive to have committee members speak out against a policy or procedure that’s been voted on by a majority.
“Once it’s decided that something is going to happen, then that’s what’s going to happen,” Dermody said.
Dermody said it’s embarrassing that the town has to adopt a policy that should already be the norm for individual behavior.
“It’s something we shouldn’t have to do in the town of Bedford,” he said.
The draft of the policy will go to all committee and board chairs before being formally adopted by the council.