To the editor:
This letter is a response to Mr. LaValley’s July 11 letter to the editor criticizing Board of Selectmen Chairman Richard Spirlet and me for not reappointing a particular individual to the Conservation Commission.
Mr. LaValley went out of his way to make this a personal attack, so I feel it is necessary to respond to what might otherwise be considered Progressive Party politics as usual. What Mr. LaValley failed to mention in his diatribe were the circumstances surrounding his own appointment to what turned out to be a short and unhappy tenure on the Conservation Commission. When he was appointed three years ago by backers Selectmen Valcourt, Dutra and Ouellette, he displaced a 19-year veteran on the commission who was also seeking reappointment. Many did not agree with the choice back then, for a number of reasons, but it was certainly within the rights and prerogative of the majority of the board to make that call.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to simply select a replacement. Recall that on this particular appointment cycle, as well as those in the prior and subsequent year, some selectmen thought it necessary to criticize applicants who were competing for appointments with their own personal selections.
Like Mr. LaValley, I too was moved to write a letter to the editor at that time. However, that letter focused on thanking the “un-appointed” commissioner for his two decades of service to the town and leveled no criticism at the Board of Selectmen for exercising their right to appoint whomever they desire. I did make a commitment that if I was ever in the position of making appointments, I would not allow politically motivated criticism to enter into the process.
Thankfully, the last two years of appointments have been different. Chairman Spirlet has been clear in his insistence that all those that come before the board be treated with respect. Further, folks who take the initiative to volunteer for service to the town should not have to run the gauntlet in order to receive proper consideration. Remember, these are volunteer positions. It should be a simple process, thank everyone for applying and select the ones you believe will act in the best interest of the town and the office to which they will be assigned.
Mr. LaValley’s letter and others recently submitted highlight a choice that presently confronts the Progressive Party. That is to work with other elected officials and appointees to address the many serious issues now confronting Westport or spend the next nine months playing politics in an attempt to disparage Mr. Spirlet. I’m pretty sure where Mr. LaValley stands here. Let’s hope the rest of his party can wait at least a few months to begin the election cycle.
R. Michael Sullivan
Mr. Sullivan is member of the Board of Selectman and a former Conservation Commission member and chairman.