WHITMAN — The Board of Selectmen, in a joint meeting with the Planning Board Tuesday, Sept. 24, interviewed two candidates for interim appointment to fill vacancies on that board.
Planning Board candidates Elaine Bergeron, Jerry Blumenthal and Adele Carew appeared at the joint session. The board is being sequentially reduced in membership, as voted at Town Meeting, to get down to a five-member board after the next election because of problems gaining a quorum in order to hold meetings.
One of the now-vacant positions disappears after next year because of the reduction of members. One of the two would then have to run to fill the seat that would be vacant.
Blumenthal had to leave the meeting, due to a family emergency, before the hearing, which was delayed due to an extended discussion during the public forum, could be opened. Town Administrator Frank Lynam said he is interested in serving on the Planning Board.
Selectmen Chairman Dr. Carl Kowalski suggested that because of Blumenthal’s early departure and the absence of a Planning Board member who wished to take part in the vote, the hearing could be continued to the Thursday, Sept. 16 meeting when he could be interviewed and a vote taken.
With five members, only three need to attend to achieve a quorum, mandatory to open mail and address bills, let alone talk to developers or others seeking to present plans to the board.
“What I’d like to do is, first and foremost … I’d like to have the definition changed so a majority of active board members, not sitting positions, would constitute a quorum, no less than three members,” said Chairman Eric Pretorius.
“Unfortunately, that would require a statutory action,” said Lynam. “It would require Home Rule legislation, because the quorums are established by law.”
To vote on membership, however, Lynam said only a majority of both boards would be necessary. Pretorius said no surveying experience is needed; one only has to be able to read through rules and regulations and ask questions.
Whitman native Bergeron served on the Finance Committee in the 1970s and has been a member of the Whitman-Hanson Scholarship Foundation for almost 40 years as well as serving as an election worker. She is currently a senior vice president director of personal insurance, overseeing a staff of 60 both directly and indirectly, for a large insurance agency. Among her duties are figuring out what houses are worth and how they should be insured.
“I want to get back involved in the town,” she said. “I’m getting close to retirement, so I’ll have more time.
Selectman Dan Salvucci asked if she planned to run at the next election, but she did not have a definite plan for that, but intends to run.
“If I commit, I’ll commit,” she said.
Selectman Brian Bezanson, who has known Bergeron for many years, endorsed her and thanked her for stepping forward.
A 56-year Whitman resident, Carew is an Abington High graduate and has been a warden at Whitman polls for 45 years and is interested in some of the building in her Kenwood Drive neighborhood. She has also been a school volunteer.
If appointed, Carew said she would be willing to run for election “if the board felt I was adequate to do it.”
Bezanson also thanked her for her interest.
“We don’t get many volunteers for these boards and they’re not elected and certainly not paid, so any time we can get citizens to come forward, we really appreciate it,” he said.
Selectman Randy LaMattina said he has known Carew for a long time and she is someone who is committed to the town.
In other business, Selectman Scott Lambiase reported that he has reached out to several people regarding the budget working group that was slated to meet at 7 p.m., Monday Oct. 1 in the Selectmen’s meeting room at Town Hall. Agenda items were to include introductions and giving participants a “feel of what we’re here for, what we’re going to do,” important dates and milestones.
Lynam said the town would see a penultimate draft of the community assessment survey within a few days of the Sept. 24 Selectmen’s meeting.