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Lisbon selectmen resign on eve of Town Meeting

Union Leader Correspondent

March 20. 2017 11:28PM
Lisbon Town Hall (JOHN KOZIOL/Correspondent file)

LISBON — All three selectmen resigned Monday, the day before Town Meeting voters go to the polls.

"There’s nobody left," Chairman Thomas Demers said. "The whole upper management is gone."

Citing long-term frustration with personal criticism directed against selectmen and town administrators by a group of residents, Demers said he, Peter Nightingale and Matthew Yeramian tendered their resignations about an hour into Monday’s regularly scheduled selectmen’s meeting.

Town Administrator Dan Merhalski resigned in February after surviving a petition effort to remove him last July. Demers said Merhalski’s aide succeeded him, but she, too, left.

Hoping to bring in another interim town administrator, selectmen on Monday were divvying up the town administrator’s current duties, Demers said, when criticism was again leveled at them by some residents, whom he did not identify.

"We tried to facilitate a discussion. We’re understaffed and under-budgeted and we’ve asked for help (from the community) and all we’ve gotten is pointing fingers" and angry accusations, Demers said.

"This is not just a one-time incident. It’s the same uphill battle where you’re not appreciated, when everything you do is wrong. It’s frustrating and that’s pretty much what happened."

On Tuesday’s ballot, there is a petitioned article that seeks to eliminate the position of town administrator.

On Monday night, Secretary of State Bill Gardner said while it’s not unheard of for selectmen to resign after an election because they don’t want to work with their newly elected colleagues, "I can’t recall ever having a situation" like the one facing Lisbon.

A separate concern, said Gardner, is that state law requires a majority of a selectboard to be present at the municipal polling place during elections.

Gardner said should vacancies on the board continue for a lengthy period, a voter in the community can ask the courts to intervene.

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