NASHUA — Now is the time to look ahead and get down to business, according to the new president of the Nashua Board of Aldermen.
"I want to see us move forward and get some things accomplished," said Alderman-at-Large David Deane, the board's new president, to his colleagues after officially being chosen to lead the board on Sunday.
One of his first priorities will be to schedule meetings with officials from the Nashua School District and the Nashua Police Department.
Since those two departments are large, Deane said it would be appropriate for the Board of Aldermen to meet with representatives from the school and police departments to receive updates every three or four months.
With several major projects under way in the Public Works Department, Deane said he would also like to meet more frequently with Director Lisa Fauteux to be kept up-to-date on various initiatives.
Initially, aldermen were off to a shaky start at their first organizational meeting after being sworn into office on Sunday, as a few aldermen asked Deane to reconsider his originally proposed committee assignments.
"Welcome to the new year. Here we go — we haven't even started and we already have problems," said Alderman Paul Chasse, Ward 6.
After concerns were raised this past weekend about some board members not being assigned to their first committee choice, Chasse developed his own suggested list of committee assignments, which he thought was equitable.
Chasse contended that it would be a tough two years if some aldermen were unhappy with their committee assignments.
"Let's do something, and let's all work together," Chasse said while offering the alternative list.
Deane said he did not want to engage in negativity, adding he was willing to make some amendments to the committee assignments if the majority of the board felt it was necessary. He later agreed to make some of the changes.
Alderman-at-Large James Donchess explained to the five newest aldermen that they can attend any committee meeting and do not have to be a member of the committee to participate in discussions.
"I don't consider these appointments all that important," said Donchess, maintaining noncommittee members can still be quite influential during public debates if they choose to attend.
In an effort to move things forward, Donchess offered to trade some of his committee assignments with anyone who was disappointed with their own assignments.
"I don't think this is a good start," said Donchess, who ultimately swapped one of his committees to appease another member's request.
Alderman Ken Siegel, Ward 5, said he understood that some of the committees were more popular than others. As a result, Siegel said he was content with not being assigned to the Planning and Economic Development Committee even though he has more business experience than other board members.
Siegel described a memo from former board president Brian McCarthy — a recent letter in which McCarthy criticized the committee assignments — as a "narcissism matrix," claiming McCarthy's response to the assignments was inappropriate and a demonstration of his unwillingness to let go of his position as former board president.
Mayor Donnalee Lozeau reminded the board to work collaboratively. She described elected officials as "caretakers of the public trust" and said their mission can only be fulfilled by working together.
"Now, you are part of the team deciding what becomes of us," said Lozeau. With a nonpartisan board, there is no need for a party platform, she said, adding their job is to keep the city great.
Deane was commended for his leadership abilities, and thanked by several aldermen for his willingness to listen to concerns from colleagues and work promptly on a compromise for the board's first contentious issue.