New board chairmen were elected at selectmen’s meetings Monday in Fairhaven and Acushnet, with a bit of drama in Fairhaven and a smoother path at the selectmen’s meeting in Acushnet.
Fairhaven Selectman Robert Espindola was elected chairman by a 2-1 vote with Selectman Geoffrey Haworth in opposition.
The Fairhaven Town Hall meeting room was full to overflowing with supporters and detractors who left soon after the vote was taken.
The detractors were largely from Friends of Fairhaven Wind, which supports the town’s two industrial wind turbines. Lending support to Mr. Espindola were several members of Windwise, which opposes the turbines.
On Tuesday, Mr. Haworth said his vote had nothing to do with Mr. Espindola’s past ties with Windwise, or his environmentalism.
Instead, he said, he had concerns about Mr. Espindola’s having time for the demands of the chairman’s job, but also, “At times, I feel that he may be indecisive and things may go on longer than they need to.”
Mr. Haworth said some issues Mr. Espindola has placed on the agenda, like pay-as-you-throw, should have been left to other boards, like the Board of Public Works.
In a light-hearted moment, outgoing Chairman Charles Murphy gave Mr. Espindola the small clock he’d used as chairman as a parting gift. Mr. Haworth said while the gift was in good fun, there was also a message to it – to keep things moving along.
Mr. Haworth said he was prepared to nominate Mr. Murphy to serve again as chairman, but could see that would be a lost cause.
He said Mr. Espindola did a good job Monday after taking the reins, however. “Last night, the meeting ran good and I was pleasantly surprised.”
Mr. Murphy, who nominated Mr. Espindola for the chairman’s post, said. “I’m a traditionalist.”
Generally, selectmen take turns on a rotating basis and the vice chairman takes over the following year. Mr. Haworth was elected vice chairman Monday.
Dan Freitas of Friends of Fairhaven Wind responded by e-mail when asked Tuesday why his group opposed Mr. Espindola.
He said, “Friends of Fairhaven Wind are opposed to Mr. Espindola becoming chairman. It is not a personal problem; we feel that the issue of the turbines has been settled over the last two elections. We do not feel it needs to be rehashed again and again at a selectmen’s meeting.”
He added, “As you may have noticed, he had four to five Windwise members in the audience supporting him.”
ACUSHNET CHANGE GOES MORE SMOOTHLY
In Acushnet, where former Chairman Leslie Dakin did not seek reelection, Selectman Kevin Gaspar was sitting in the seat reserved for the chairman when the meeting began. And there was no opposition to his becoming chairman.
It wasn’t all sun and smiles, however. Later in the meeting, Selectman David Wojnar made a presentation in favor of moving the library to the former Marie S. Howard School, or community center. Newly elected Selectman Garry Rawcliffe had voiced opposition to that move during the election. (See related story on page 1.)
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