Members of the Elder Affairs Committee expressed concern that they didn’t have a chance to vet candidates for open seats on the committee before the Town Council interviewed them at their March 16 meeting.
Some of the applicants haven’t attended meetings of the Committee, according to members, who said they would have liked an opportunity to ask the applicants about their interest in serving.
“I have no problem with the Council approving appointments to the boards and committees, I just think applicants should have to go through the committee first to explain their interest before getting to the Council. Even re-appointments should have to come through the Committee first,” member Dan Lekas said. “What if someone puts something in for re-appointment and they haven’t been to any of the meetings. There should be a protocol, and it should all start with the Committee.”
Former chairman Al Baldasaro said it’s important the Committee has an opportunity to meet and interview applicants before they go before the Council.
Members of the Elder Affairs Committee said they never received notification of the new applicants whom the Council interviewed at their March meetings and didn’t have an opportunity to make a recommendation regarding whom they would like to see appointed to the open seats.
The Council recently amended the policy related to board and committee appointments to require every position to be posted when terms expire in an effort to open the process to new people interested in serving the Town.
“It would be great if more people could get involved,” Town Council Chairman John Farrell said.
When the Elder Affairs Committee raised concerns about the recent interviews of candidates they hadn’t vetted themselves, Town Manager Kevin Smith said he explained to members they can still make recommendations to the Council and interview applicants.
“If the board wants to make a recommendation to the Council, they can do so, and the Council will take that under advisement,” Smith said. “Going forward, when we get names submitted who are not already members of the committee, we’ll provide those names to the committee so they can see who has applied and contact them to interview them themselves if they want to.”
However, nothing in the Town Charter states the board or committee has to interview people first and make recommendations to the Council. The responsibility of appointments is exclusively that of the Council, although the boards and committees are encouraged to make recommendations if they wish to do so, according to Smith.
“We appoint or accept resignations, or don’t appoint or accept a resignation,” Farrell said, noting there is, however, a provision in the Charter that says each board and committee should come to the Council every year and provide an update on where they stand.
Baldasaro told the Council if there were more applicants than open seats, he would step down to allow “new blood” on the Committee.
At the Elder Affairs Committee’s March 17 meeting, Baldasaro told members it has been an honor serving with them and that he will remain available to assist them in any way possible moving forward.
The Committee appointed Bonnie Roberts chairman and Susan Haussler vice chairman.
At its March 16 meeting, the Town Council decided to investigate whether or not the Charter restricted the Council from appointing to the Elder Affairs Committee all applicants who wish to serve.
When Smith looked at the original documents that established the Elder Affairs Committee, he found two different documents – the original resolution creating the Committee, and an adopted amendment.
“Neither speak to there being any alternates on the Committee, they just speak to full members,” he said. “The Town Attorney recommended if we’re having alternates, the resolution ought to be amended by the Council to include alternate positions.”
Additionally, Smith said the resolution could be amended to include more positions on the Committee.
Although the Council would not be required to hold a public hearing on an amendment to the resolution, Smith said he would be surprised if the Council did not take public input on the matter.