FAIRHAVEN – Selectmen have set a date of Sept. 9 for a new election for Board of Health. Selectmen said the town has to provide 51 days’ notice and allow time for potential new candidates to submit nomination papers.
Daniel Freitas of a new group, Friends of Fairhaven Wind, said the election was so tainted, it should be redone for all seats that were contested last April.
But Attorney Ann DeNardis, who represented John Wethington in the court challenge, said the order from Superior Court Judge Robert Kane was only to redo the election for Board of Health. She said if Friends of Fairhaven Wind wanted to redo the whole town election, it should have gone to court.
Ms. DeNardis said candidates for other town seats had 30 days to seek a recount and only one, Cathy Melanson, did. That race was for Planning Board with Cathy Melanson losing by 14 votes after a recount.
Mr. Freitas said no one knew how many election irregularities there were within the 30-day timeframe. He said that all came out later in the court hearing and news media.
Mr. Freitas said just last week another revelation came forth about a ballot that was stuck in a machine. That ballot, cast for Board of Health incumbent Peter DeTerra, wasn’t included in the recount April 23. It was never reported to selectmen or in court by Town Counsel Thomas Crotty or Town Clerk Eileen Lowney.
Mr. Freitas asked rhetorically, how can they trust the election process when there are revelations like this almost every day?
Henry Ferreira, who opposes the wind turbines, said the motive of Friends of Fairhaven Wind was to redo the selectmen’s race despite the huge margin of victory for winner Geoffrey Haworth. Mr. Haworth was supported by Windwise. Mr. Bowcock lost his bid for reelection by more than 250 votes.
Ken Pottel of Windwise said it wasn’t logical to redo other races like the selectmen’s. He said, “It would be taking an election away from people who won with a lot of votes.”
Select Board Chairman Charles Murphy said they were there that night to follow the orders of the judge, which called for a new election for Board of Health.
“Do I have concerns about town counsel and not telling us about this ballot?” he said of the one caught in the machine. “Absolutely.” He pointed out that a discussion item later in the evening involved Mr. Crotty.
Later that evening, selectmen decided to meet with Mr. Crotty to discuss some of the recent issues that have come up, like the suddenly discovered ballot. They said they will accept resumes from other law firms interested in serving the town.
As occurred last week, Ms. Lowney was invited to attend the selectmen’s meeting and did not attend, nor did Mr. Crotty, who was out of town.
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