Bridgewater names new selectman, after GOP committee and Democrat differ
Updated 1:11 pm, Wednesday, August 10, 2016
A Republican had to be appointed to the board after Selectman Leo Null died July 17. And with a deadline coming up, the town’s other two selectmen, both Democrats, had to make a decision. They were to appoint a new Republican selectman Monday.
Read offered the job to a different Republican, Bill Macgeorge. His plan was to vote Macgeorge into office Monday morning, he said. Read only had until Aug. 16 — 30 days after Null’s death — to appoint a new selectman, and he thought Macgeorge was the right guy for the job.
The town was in the midst of rewriting its zoning laws, something Null had been championing, and Macgeorge was the current chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals. It made sense to Read, and with his pending deadline, and plenty of zoning work to take care of, he wanted Macgeorge in office quickly, he said.
But when the Republican Town Committee heard of Read’s decision, it objected. The committee should have been consulted in the matter, committee co-chairmen Ned Bandler and David Hawley wrote in an Aug. 6 letter to selectmen.
David Hawley is Nancy Hawley’s husband, but their relationship has nothing to do with the RTC’s push to have Nancy Hawley elected, she said.
If Read didn’t pick Hawley to fill the late Leo Null’s seat, the committee would circulate a petition that would eventually create a special election to fill the seat, the Aug. 6 letter said.
While it is within the rights of town residents to ask for a special election, Read considered the ultimatum — Hawley or special election — a political “threat.”
An election would cost the town money, and would create the appearance of a mess, Read said. He didn’t want either of those outcomes.
Neither did Macgeorge, 82, who only wanted to help the town, not be at the center of a special election, he said. When he heard of the hubbub, he bowed out, he said.
“I will not expose the town to this kind of nonsense,” he said.
So Hawley was the Republican appointed to carry out the 15 months remaining on Null’s term by the board of selectman Monday.
Hawley, who had been serving as chairperson of the town’s Board of Finance, said the idea that RTC pushed Macgeorge out and used a special election as a political tactic is untrue. Soon after Null’s passing, she wrote a letter to the board asking to be appointed to Null’s seat.
She, and the RTC, thought she was the perfect person for the job, she said. Null was even her running mate in 2013 when she ran for first selectman, and her expertise in finance could help the town balance its budget, she added.
But after the letter was sent, she heard nothing from Read, Hawley said, adding that there was no communication between the board and her, or the RTC.
While Halwey’s appointment was messy, no officials think it will disrupt the board’s work.
Both Read and Macgeorge said she is more than capable of doing the job, adding that they just wished the appointment process had gone differently.
“I know she’ll do a good job,” Macgeorge said. “I’m happy Nancy Hawley is in there. Now I can go fishing.”
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