PERU — Several residents Monday night spoke against town meeting warrant articles that call for some positions to be appointed instead of elected.

Articles 25, 26 and 27 ask if residents want to change the positions of town clerk, tax collector, treasurer, road commissioner and fire chief from elected to appointed. If approved, the change would take effect after the current terms are completed or when the person leaves the position.

Resident Rick Wilson said, “We voted on this once before.”

In November 2012, residents voted 402-476 against changing the position of secretary to the Board of Selectmen from elected to appointed.

“In 2012, we voted to elect the secretary,” Wilson said. “Before that, the road commissioner has been selected by election. I’m not sure about the fire chief position. The Board of Selectmen said that they would write up a list of criteria that people applying would have to meet before being put on the ballot.”

Selectman Jim Pulsifer said, “I don’t believe so. You may not restrict the qualifications of a candidate, except by writing a charter or a very complicated ordinance.”


“I know that it’s been discussed among selectmen before that people would have to qualify for the position before they could be put on the ballot,” Wilson said.

He asked Pulsifer if there is a “problem with the way it is right now.”

“There are no problems with the people serving the town right now,” Pulsifer said, “but the town has to look forward to where we’re going to end up. The needs of the offices are becoming much more complicated and require much more training. It’s pretty difficult to learn that on the job.

“These articles are on here to recommend to townspeople. We need to be prepared for the time we may have to go to a part- or full-time town manager,” Pulsifer said.

When a position is appointed, he said, there is an interview process and a review of the applicant’s qualifications, but when someone is elected to the position, “we can’t do that.”

Wilson said selectmen were “taking away our freedom to elect the people we want.”


Resident John Witherell said, “There’s no reason why any of these people can’t present their qualifications in front of the town at one of these informational meetings, so we can know what their qualifications are. I don’t understand why you think a five-person board can elect a person better than a whole town. I don’t understand why you’re asking people to do away with their right to vote on something.”

Board of Selectmen Chairman Lee Merrill said, “If you guys vote someone in there, because of popular vote, and he or she is not qualified for the job, it’s not like we can fire them or get rid of them.”

Resident Don Roach asked Merrill, “Don’t we have a recall ordinance? Can’t we recall elected officials if they’re not doing their job?”

“Yes, but why go through the process if you don’t have to do it?” Merrill said.

“That’s a pretty good argument for not going through this process,” Roach said, holding up the referendum ballot warrant.

Selectman Larry Snowman said if a resident gets 25 signatures on a petition, they can be placed on the ballot for election.

“That’s all it takes — 25 signatures,” Snowman said. “That’s why we feel, especially with the fire chief’s position, that they should be appointed. The fire chief’s position takes a lot of training. It’s not just anyone who can step into that position. It takes years of training.”

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