CONCORD — The man who has served as Sergeant-at-Arms for the New Hampshire House for more than a decade has resigned after being offered a schedule of reduced work hours.
Walter Sword had been reelected by acclamation in December, the same day Secretary of State Bill Gardner eked out a four-vote win over former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern.
Sword was unavailable for comment.
House Speaker Steve Shurtleff, D-Penacook, said Sword’s resignation letter, effective immediately, was submitted on Friday.
“For the last week or so he’s talked about leaving the State House and apparently he finally decided to make that decision,” Shurtleff said.
Sword has worked three days a week throughout the year, and Shurtleff was looking to cut that back.
“I explained to him a couple weeks ago that there are some days that it’s not necessary for him to be here, especially during the summer when we are not in session,” Shurtleff said. “My goal is to get someone to work part time, maybe three days a week for six hours a day, and be off in the summertime.”
Sword celebrated his 80th birthday in 2015.
“Walter and I have been friends for a long time,” Shurtleff said. “I called him this morning to see if he would reconsider and he said he was thinking about going in June anyway.”
Shurtleff said the position could be changed from one that is elected by the House every two years to a staff position that would report to the House Clerk. The matter is expected to be brought before the House Facilities Committee in the near future.
“It’s not a political position,” Shurtleff said. “We want to see someone qualified. It would be good to have someone who is a firefighter or law enforcement, someone used to dealing with first aid issues and having that experience.”
The Sergeant-at-Arms is charged with maintaining order and decorum along with managing the security of the House while in session or in committee hearings.