The North Adams, Massachusetts city council is preparing to fill the seat of former councilor Robert Moulton, who resigned this week after making inflammatory comments about Black Lives Matter and COVID-19.
Moulton submitted his resignation to the council and school committee Monday morning, following statements last week that referred to the Black Lives Matter movement as a terrorist group and downplayed the risks of COVID-19. That leaves a vacant seat on the nine-person body.
The council for the city of 13,000 discussed how to fill it Tuesday night.
“In discussion with a number of people in the last day or so, I would like to propose that we offer a 10-calendar day window for individuals to express interest in filling out the term," said City Council President Paul Hopkins. “Which would put us at the end of the business day on Friday, August the 7th, and the plan being then to select a candidate during our August 11th meeting.”
City hall closes at 1 p.m. on Fridays.
“So those people interested in being considered to fill out the term should express that interest through the North Adams city clerk,” said Hopkins.
Section 50A of North Adams’ city charter lays out protocols for filling vacancies on the city council.
It reads as follows: “Vacancies in the city council shall be filled by the remaining members thereof for the remainder of the unexpired term.”
The council last filled a vacant seat in 2017, when Nancy Bullet resigned to move out of state.
“We did this call for interest at the actual meeting of the decision making. We did permit the individuals – I forget if it was two or five minutes – to essentially present themselves to the council to say remarks in terms of their qualifications and reasons why they are interested in filling the vacancy," said Councilor Benjamin Lamb, who was president at the time. “We did not necessarily do a specific session on making comments about the candidates, though they could have been brought up the hearing of visitors at the beginning, because it is an agenda item. So as long as those names are indicated on the agenda in some way shape or form, folks would be able to speak to that during the beginning part of the hearing of visitors.”
It was not determined if the councilor would be sworn in at the August 11th meeting upon selection. Councilor Wayne Wilkinson, who filled Bullet’s seat in 2017, said he wasn’t sworn in at the same meeting he was selected.
Councilor Jason LaForest said he knew of at least two people interested in filling Moulton’s seat.
A two-time mayoral candidate, Moulton was elected to his sixth non-consecutive two-year term on the council in 2019.