Last Friday, upon learning of Small’s decision, all three selectmen conducted an emergency consultation with their attorney, Robert Ciandella, behind closed doors. Under state law, such sessions, known as nonmeetings with counsel, are allowed to be conducted in private without posting the notice publicly.
During the conference with Ciandella, Khan and Kelly learned that under state law and the town charter, selectmen are responsible for appointing Small’s replacement, who would serve only until the next scheduled election in March 2014. They also learned that the town charter holds that whenever possible, the runner-up in the election — who in this case was Raymond Smith — should be appointed.
Town Manager Joe Titone, on Ciandella’s advice, contacted Smith to see if he’d be willing to serve for the year, if appointed. Smith signed a one-sentence letter of intent stating he would. But Smith wasn’t appointed at the nonpublic meeting and officials said no one would be appointed until the recount is decided. Following the recount, selectmen will formally choose a replacement at a public meeting, they said.
Although Titone contacted Smith to see if he would be willing to serve, Khan, Kelly, Titone and Smith have repeatedly said Smith was not part of Friday’s nonpublic session, was not appointed at the session and that no votes were taken at that time.
The comments from Brown and Wood drew a warning from Kelly.
“I served six years and did the best I could,” Kelly said. “I understand there was a group effort to make sure I didn’t (serve) anymore. Be careful how you push me.”
Kelly ended the meeting by delivering a prepared statement in which he discussed how lucky he felt since moving to Seabrook and serving the people in town as their selectman. Kelly said although he lost, he has had been pleased that Small earned the most votes, feeling Small had been the best of the other candidates.