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March 18. 2014 7:13PM

Salem selectmen choose leaders, but board divided

SALEM — It wasn’t the smoothest transition to a new leadership for the board of selectmen on Monday night.

Pat Hargreaves was elected the board’s new chairman by a 3-1 vote with one abstention. Everett McBride, who was chairman, will now be vice chairman and Stephen Campbell will remain the board’s secretary.

Hargreaves was last board chairman in 2012.

Selectman Michael Lyons voted against the slate of officers while James Keller abstained, but not before for first speaking for several minutes about how he was disappointed in the leadership selection process.

Keller said when he initially ran for selectman, he ran on a platform of instilling a new approach for the board.

“It’s difficult to even have an attempt to instill a new approach when you are not given an opportunity to do that,” said Keller. “Apparently, based on the nomination of the slate, there is no desire to see a new approach or even a sharing of responsibility.”

Keller said he would like the opportunity to chair the board or at least see a change in leadership.

“I have constituents, as we all do, and they want their voices heard and they want a chance at leadership,” said Keller. “I advocate this for everyone, not just me, whether it is Stephen or whether it is Michael. At some point, I’m probably going to seek a modification of our bylaws to potentially codify this.”

Keller said he was disappointed in Hargreaves in that Hargreaves left him a voice message which Keller said did not ask for his support as much as state that Hargreaves did not believe that Keller had the interests of Selectman Campbell at heart.

“I didn’t think that was the chairman’s job,” said Keller. He said he thought the job was to work with the entire board, town staff and the town’s citizens.

Lyons said he would not support the slate of officers in part because he did not believe it would do enough to solidify and protect the town manager’s position.

He said that he initially had doubts about Hargreaves term as chairman two years ago but that he was pleasantly surprised by his term.

“I had one request, I wanted you to protect the town manager so he would not be bogged down by one selectman,” said Lyons. And while he said Hargreaves did a good job of staying on top of that, Lyons said he does not believe that has happened over the past year, noting that Town Manager Keith Hickey has applied for and is a finalist for the town manager position in Dracut, Mass.

Hargreaves said he called both Keller and Lyons and left voice messages for them about the chairman’s position but that he never got a call back from either one of them.

As for his new term as chairman, Hargreaves said he will work to keep it as organized and fair as he did two years ago.aswift@newstote.com


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