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Hooksett council delays vote on police board

HOOKSETT - The Town Council delayed a proposed "vote of confidence" in the Police Commission to April 24.

The vote would come 13 days before the town election, a move some fear will result in the council influencing the outcome of a petition warrant to abolish the commission.

In September, the Town Council voted "no confidence" in the Police Commission. The 4-3 vote cited concerns over delays in hiring a new chief and the lack of transparency in the commission's activities.

After a series of promotions, reforms and the hiring of a well-received new police chief, Peter Bartlett, commission supporters said that the body had made great strides over the fall and requested at the council's Jan. 9 meeting that the council retract its earlier vote with a "vote of confidence."

David Pearl and Marc Miville, school board and budget committee members respectively, had argued that the board's no-confidence vote could be construed as support for the warrant article to abolish the Police Commission.

The council decided to schedule the vote as an agenda item for the next meeting. But at Wednesday's meeting, Councilor Leslie Boswak asked for a delay.

"This is a subject that has been very controversial and very divisive for the town, and I would just like to ask that everybody to just let it go and leave them alone until the election is closer," said Boswak.

Council Chairman Jim Sullivan, noting that his concerns and questions with the commission had been assuaged since his vote of "no confidence," agreed with removing the matter from the agenda.

Ultimately, the council delayed the vote until its April 24 meeting, 13 days before the town's May 7 election when the petition warrant will be voted on.

Pearl and Miville opposed the delay.

"I come here very disappointed in the council tonight," said Pearl. "We hear that we want to leave them alone and have some time with their new chief and not have a bad press article. We just had an opportunity for good press article."

He argued that holding a vote so close to voting day would bring the council more involved, not less, in the affairs of the commission and the vote's result.

"Now, you have scheduled yourselves to be part of the influencing of a warrant article," Pearl said.

Miville urged the council to get the vote over with.

"If the council decides to have a vote of confidence in the commission a week before the election, I think that's terrific, because it supports my side," said Miville. "But thinking in a nonpartisan manner, I can see how the other side would be upset about that."

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