March 14, 2011

As new council gathers, new divisions form

Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- The new Town Council got off to a rocky beginning Saturday afternoon, when newly elected Town Councilors Tom Freda and Joe Green sat for their first official council meeting.
Freda and Green were elected to the council on March 8, replacing Paul DiMarco and Mike Brown.During the brief Town Council meeting, held in the high school cafeteria for the sole purpose of reorganization immediately following the March 12 town meeting, things got tense when the council elected its officers for the coming year.
Town Councilor John Farrell made a motion to elect Councilor Tom Dolan as the new council chairman, but no one
 seconded the motion.
With that, new councilor Tom Freda made a motion to elect Sean O’Keefe chairman, and Green seconded the motion.
But not everyone agreed with the choice.
“With all due respect, I cannot support that motion and will be voting against it,” Farrell said. “I don’t think that we
 should have a chairman that is in a current lawsuit against the school district.”
O’Keefe, along with state representative Al Baldasaro and former town councilor Brian Farmer, filed a lawsuit against the Londonderry School District and its meeting moderator, John Michels, late last year. The three residents filed the lawsuit in early December 2010,
 arguing that the 500-member quorum required during the annual school deliberative session is unconstitutional.
A motion for preliminary injunction was denied in Rockingham County Superior Court in late January, though district officials continue to await a final court decision on the quo­
rum’s constitutionality. 

“I think the person involved in the lawsuit is a citizen of the town and was doing so as a citizen and a voter in this town,” Freda shot back at Farrell on Saturday afternoon, asking his fellow councilors to move forward with the vote. 
Though Farrell objected as promised, as did Dolan, the three remaining councilors voted in O’Keefe’s favor. 
With that, Green made a motion to elect Dolan as the new vice chairman, seconded by Freda. 
When Dolan declined the nomination, Freda nominated Green as vice chairman. The divided council voted, 4-1, in favor of Green, with Dolan the sole councilor opposed. 
The reorganized Town Council will hold its first fulllength meeting on Monday, March 21. 

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