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Hinsdale Select Chair Targeted For Recall

Jim Levulis

Residents looking to remove the select chair of a small Berkshire County town are one step closer.Hinsdale Select Chair Bonnie Conner read her own name during Wednesday night’s meeting, the target of another recall effort. Nearly 400 people signed the petition seeking to recall her on the grounds of incompetence and malfeasance. One of the signers is Jim Sullivan, who’s been outspoken about town issues during meetings, which often become contentious.

“We come to these meetings - we have to fight for a voice and an opinion on things that are going on. They’re very blasé and lackadaisical about their attitude toward the concerns of this town. They’ve driven a wedge in our community.”

Only 20 percent of the town’s voting population — about 280 people — needed to sign the petition to continue the recall process. If Conner doesn’t resign within five days, and after the meeting she said she didn’t plan to, a recall election will be held. A date is not yet known, but must occur within 64 and 90 days. During a special town meeting last year, town voters overwhelmingly approved the ability to recall an elected official.

“Yes votes...202 and the ‘no’ votes…95,” meeting moderator John Conner read to the crowd gathered which answered with cheers and applause.

Even earlier in December 2013, more than 300 people asked Conner to resign. A month prior the Select Board placed then-Police Chief Nancy Daniels on paid administrative leave because she did not have the necessary training to serve as a full-time chief. She says injuries and surgery prevented her from getting it. The Select Board fired Daniels in January 2014.

Two months ago, more than 100 people signed a so-called petition to recall Conner, listing the termination of Daniels and transfer station attendant Bruce Stetson as reasons. That language has been left off the current petition.

The hiring process for Stetson’s successor became the subject of an open meeting law compliant. An applicant who did not get the job claims Bruce Marshall, a selectman of nearly four decades, divulged information to Stetson and others that should’ve remained in executive session. After initially refusing to answer the complaint, Marshall agreed to do so during a February meeting. On Wednesday night Marshall refused to answer questions, but said town counsel is handling the complaint.

After the meeting resident Jim Sullivan asked Marshall whether he would become chair if Conner resigned.

“I think so, yeah,” Marshall said. “But it depends on the election.”

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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