, Newburyport, MA

March 23, 2013

Smith named selectman after recount

By Angeljean Chiaramida

---- — SEABROOK — Retired Seabrook school teacher Ray Smith is officially a member of the Board of Selectmen, sworn in yesterday afternoon within a couple of hours after of the completion of a recount that challenged the outcome of the election two weeks ago.

The recount confirmed the original order of finish of the six-person race, as reported on election day March 12, although the tally changed just a bit. The certified recount results listed the order of finish at Eric Small, 328 votes, Smith runner up with 280, Maria Y. Brown received 156, incumbent Selectman Brendan Kelly with 155, Paula J. Wood had 94, and Paul Knowles, the candidate who requested the recount, with 60 votes.

Small declined to serve as selectmen on March 14, citing health problems. According to state law, the selectmen have the authority to appoint Smith’s replacement. Seabrook’s Town Charter also give selectmen the authority to appoint the replacement, with the additional recommendation that the runner up should be appointed whenever possible. The appointee can serve only until the next scheduled election, which is in March 2014.

Since he was the certified runner up, after consulting privately with their attorney Robert Ciandella, offered motion to nominate Smith to fill the vacancy. Selectmen Ed Hess and Aboul Khan voting in favor of Smith, with Kelly abstaining.

Lacey Moore, a member of the Town Clerk’s staff, and a Justice of the Peace, immediately administered the oath of office to Smith, and upon Kelly’s departure from the selectmen’s table, Smith took his seat.

Candidate’s Knowles and Brown were in the room during the meeting. Brown rose to voice her disapproval with the manner in which selectmen handled the situation. Khan assured Brown that selectmen acted in accordance with state law and the Town Charter, and with the advice of Ciandella.

But Brown told the selectmen they shouldn’t always rely on an attorney’s advice, again voicing her displeasure with the board’s actions.

After Brown spoke the second time, Khan appealed for cooperation. He urged both Knowles and Brown to put their hard feelings aside.

“The next election is a year away when the people can elect two selectmen,” Khan said. ‘Between now and the next election, let’s work together for the people of Seabrook.

“Let’s show that this is not a circus town, as someone else said,” Khan added, referring to a comment Kelly made on Wednesday.

According to Town Clerk Bonnie Fowler, the deadline to file an appeal on the outcome of the recount is five days from its conclusion. The appeal must be filed in Superior Court, Fowler said.