NASHUA — The city now has a new, permanent leader in its legal department, as the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday appointed a new corporation counsel to handle Nashua’s legal matters.
Attorney Stephen M. Bennett of Mont Vernon, prior deputy corporation counsel for Nashua, has been promoted to the office of city solicitor with a vote of 13-2.
The city’s legal team has been without its top corporation counsel for several months since Attorney James McNamee has been on long-term disability. Since that time, Bennett has been serving as interim corporation counsel.
“I am honored to present his name for consideration,” Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said of Bennett, adding his advice and support have been crucial for many city departments and boards.
Bennett has been working in the city’s legal department for about 15 years, serving as deputy corporation counsel since 1998.
Before his time with the city, Bennett was employed as a public defender in New Hampshire for almost 14 years. He was also a former partner at Elliot, Jasper and Bennett in Newport from 1979 to 1985.
“I think he is very competent and definitely has my support,” said Alderman-at-Large Lori Wilshire, adding Bennett has been with the city for a long time and has worked hard for many entities.
Bennett received his law degree from Ohio Northern University Claude W. Pettit College of Law. He also has a degree in international studies from the American University in Washington, D.C.
In addition to Bennett and attorney Dory Clark, there are also two paralegals working as part of the city’s legal team. According to the city’s legal budget, the corporation counsel will receive an annual salary of about $113,000.
With Bennett’s promotion, he will be responsible for all legal matters and management practices affecting the city. Those duties include corporate governance, litigation, contracts, labor and employment.
Two aldermen — Mark Cookson and Paul Chasse — voted in opposition to Bennett’s appointment.
While Chasse said he has nothing against Bennett personally, he does not believe Bennett is the right person for the position.
“We are still left in the dark,” said Chasse, contending there are times when questions by the board are not always answered thoroughly by the city attorney.
In Bennett’s defense, Alderman-at-Large James Donchess said the position of city solicitor is a challenging role with conflicting demands, maintaining Bennett deserves the promotion.