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Special election is avoided after Town Councilor John Danforth resigns

The Hooksett Town Council voted Wednesday, March 13, to delay accepting a previously approved resignation to avoid triggering a costly special election.

The board voted unanimously to accept Town Councilor John Danforth’s resignation on March 26, early enough to open up the district seat for candidates to file for the annual town election in May, and late enough to bar the possibility of a special election.

Danforth’s resignation had previously been accepted on Feb. 13. Danforth said his duties were conflicting with his duties to his family, but that he would be willing to stay until May if necessary.

The Hooksett Town Charter calls for a replacement to be appointed within 30 days of a declared vacancy. Because the council had no appointee ready by their March 13 meeting, a special election would have been triggered.

Complicating the issue was the Supervisor of the Checklist’s redistricting plan, approved Feb. 27. Danforth was elected to Hooksett District 2; redistricting put him in District 4. Councilors could not look for a replacement until they had clarified where an interim could come from under redistricting.

Several residents who expressed interest in becoming the interim councilor lived in the former District 2, but are now in District 4.

After a lengthy discussion and several proposals, Town Councilor Vincent Lembo offered the idea of delaying Danforth’s resignation. Town Administrator Dean Shankle Jr. supplied the date of March 26.

Whoever ends up with the new District 2 seat will serve the remainder of Danforth’s term and face election in 2014.

Also on the May ballot will be Lembo’s at-large seat (open to all residents except those living in Districts 2 and 3), Nancy Comai’s District 6 seat, and Michael Downer’s District 5 seat, though Downer has indicated that he does not intend to run for re-election.

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