DEEP RIVER — The two remaining members of the board of selectmen, Democrat Angus McDonald Jr. and Republican Dave Oliveria, met Wednesday, but took no action on filling the top job vacancy created by the March 25 death of longtime Democratic First Selectmen Richard Smith.
Oliveria told a handful of residents at the board’s regular meeting he and McDonald were “not ready” to act on a first selectman appointment Tuesday. Oliveria said he and McDonald would hold two special meetings next week, a closed session discussion with one prospective candidate for a seat on the board, followed by another special meeting later in the week to vote on a first selectman appointment. The two selectmen have already held one special meeting closed session discussion on the vacancy, an April 7 session that lasted about 30 minutes.
The state law governing filling of vacancies gives the two remaining selectmen 30 days to appoint a first selectman who would serve the remainder of Smith’s unexpired term ending in November 2017. Town officials have agreed the deadline for making an appointment is Monday, April 25.
McDonald said after the brief meeting he and Oliveria are seeking to “work cooperatively” on filling the vacancy. “A lot of thought is going in to this because it’s a really important role,” he said. But McDonald, who was first elected with Smith in 2011, added that he remains interested in filling the open position for the next 19 months. A co-owner of an engineering firm, McDonald said he continues to discuss the possibility of assuming the first selectman job with his partners.
An appointment of McDonald as first selectman would create a new vacancy on the three-member board that would be filled under the same appointment procedure, with the same 30 days for action deadline.