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Kensington's selectmen quit; town facing emergency

Union Leader Correspondent

September 12. 2018 2:05PM
Kensington's three selectmen have resigned, creating an emergency in town. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

KENSINGTON — All three selectmen quit the board this week, creating a governmental emergency in town.

Norman DeBoisbriand, Robert Wadleigh and Linda Blood resigned following three months of contentious debate and accusations.

They walked out of Monday night’s board meeting.

Board Chairman DeBoisbriand announced he was resigning at the meeting, while Wadleigh and Blood turned in resignation letters Tuesday.

DeBoisbriand said the board has faced constant attacks from some residents and that the attacks turned personal.

“These attacks on not us, but on our family members, have gone beyond what we think is reasonable in this position as a board of selectmen,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

The resignations prompted Town Moderator Harold Bragg to file an emergency petition Wednesday asking a Rockingham County Superior Court judge to appoint two new selectmen.

The court has scheduled a hearing on the emergency petition Friday at 9 a.m., the day paychecks are to be issued to town employees. Selectmen must authorize payroll.

Accusations flying

Wadleigh and Blood did not offer reasons for their resignations in their letters, but DeBoisbriand said the problems began a few months ago when the board “relieved two individuals of their responsibilities in regard to the recreation department and the Sawyer Kensington Trust.”

He didn’t identify the people, but Donna Carter, a volunteer who had served on the recreation committee, was terminated from the position in June.

Carter and other community members have questioned the termination and filed right-to-know requests seeking information because she said she hasn’t been told why she was let go.

DeBoisbriand said the town attorney had advised selectmen not to offer reasons because of legal issues and threats of a lawsuit.

Accusations have been flying on social media, but DeBoisbriand said he became increasingly frustrated when some people began attacking his significant other.

“You can sit there and take it for a while, but you know when the statements are inaccurate and people start believing these statements and they come to meetings and they say ‘This individual did this,’ and you know it’s wrong, it starts to wear on you,” he said.

Bragg has recommended Michael Schwotzer, a former selectman who recently served as town treasurer, and Benjamin Cole, who served on the school board, to fill two of the vacancies until voters can elect new selectmen in March.

Once appointed, the two new selectmen could appoint a third member.

Meanwhile, DeBoisbriand said he hit his “toleration point” at Monday’s meeting.

During the meeting, the board took up the town clerk’s recommendation to appoint Wadleigh’s wife, Nancy, as deputy town clerk.

Wadleigh recused himself, but some residents still viewed the possible appointment as a conflict of interest.

DeBoisbriand said the board had checked with its attorney and was told it wouldn’t be a conflict. A frustrated Wadleigh crumpled up the recommendation letter. DeBoisbriand said he and Wadleigh both said at the meeting they’d had enough.

Politics Kensington

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