SELECTMEN NEWS: Economic Development Committee Already Hits A Snag Before Its First Meeting

WILMINGTON, MA — At Monday night’s Board of Selectmen Meeting, Town Manager Jeff Hull announced his appointments to the town’s newly formed Economic Development Committee:

  • Mike Champoux (former Selectman who pushed for the formation of the Economic Development Committee for several years, local business person, active in the Wilmington-Tewksbury Chamber of Commerce)
  • Patrick Giroux (works for a commercial real estate firm in Boston, family owns a real estate business)
  • Lilia Maselli (works as an executive assistant with the management staff at Analog Devices, owns & runs a small business with her husband)
  • Nancy Vallee (Executive Director fo the Wilmington-Tewksbury Chamber of Commerce)
  • Selectman Greg Bendel (Selectmen’s designee)
  • Planning & Conservation Director Valerie Gingrich

Hull will also serve on the Committee.

“The appointees bring a broad and diverse background that will prove beneficial when assessing Wilmington’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities and in developing an understanding of what economic development means to to residents,” Hull wrote in a memo to the board.

Hull said the Committee will hold its first meeting on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at 7pm at Town Hall in Room 9.

Not So Fast

“Who made these appointments? Isn’t it the Board of Selectmen that created the Economic Development Committee?,” asked Selectman Mike McCoy. 

“I thought it was our understanding that Mr. Hull would be making the appointments,” answered Selectman Chair Kevin Caira.

“I don’t ever remember giving the authority to the Town Manager to make these appointments. These appointments should be made by the Board of Selectmen. Period.” responded McCoy. “I don’t have a problem with the folks who got on, but I would hope to think that we, as members of the Board, would have an opportunity to make an appointment, just like we’re doing for the Town Meeting Review Committee and as we did for the Town Bylaw Review Committee.”

Selectman Jonathan Eaton corrected McCoy, noting that Selectmen, back at its January 14 meeting, did agree to the makeup of the Economic Development Committee (“Town Manager Jeff Hull, Planning Director Valerie Gingrich, a designee from the Board of Selectmen, a representative from the Wilmington/Tewksbury Chamber of Commerce, two business owners, and a resident at large”) along with Hull’s intentions to appoint the committee’s members.

“We can add to [the existing membership] if you want,” Selectman Caira told Selectman McCoy. 

“Each member should have an opportunity to make an appointment to this committee. I think that would be the fair thing to do. I mean, we are the Executive Board, last time I checked,” said McCoy.

“I don’t have a problem with that,” agreed Caira. “If each Selectman appointed a member, that would keep the committee to 11 in its membership.”

McCoy then questioned whether it was fair that Town Manager Hull appointed four members to the committee, while each Selectman is only appointing one.

“Are you looking for me to rescind appointments?” asked Hull. “If you’re looking for me to rescind appointments, I can certainly do that.”

McCoy did not call for any appointments to be rescinded, and said he wouldn’t argue the fact if his colleagues felt strongly that the board previously agreed to allow Hull to make the appointments. McCoy did stress, however, that each Selectman should get an appointment.

“There’s never a problem when there’s more smart people in the room,” agreed Eaton.

After Eaton made a motion to allow for each Selectman to appoint a member, McCoy then asked that the entire issue be tabled until the board’s next meeting, so he could research to see if the board did, in fact, grant Hull the authority to make the existing seven appointments.

Hull asked the board that action be taken tonight — whatever that action may be — as the members he appointed are expecting to meet on Tuesday, March 12, one day after the Selectmen’s next meeting on Monday, March 11.

Eaton then amended his motion to include the ratification the Town Manager’s existing appointments to the Economic Development Committee. The amendment passed 3-1 with Selectman McCoy in opposition. The overall motion ultimately passed 4-0.

At their March 11 meeting, each Selectman will bring forth a name to appoint to the Economic Development Committee. As a result, the date of the committee’s first meeting will be pushed back from March 12.

Selectman Candidate Criticizes Process

Selectman candidate Suzanne Sullivan spoke out during the “Public Comments” portion of the meeting, asking for clarification on the criteria Town Manager Hull used to appoint members to the Economic Development Committee.

“It’s curious to me how these people came forward to you. I sat at the last meeting this was discussed at and I thought there was going to be a process for appointing people,” said Sullivan. “What I saw here tonight was not process. That was flying by your pants. It almost seems like you don’t want anyone else to participate except for who you handpick, Jeff.”

“Are these just handpicked people who you are good friends with?,” Sullivan later asked.

“That’s offensive. I think Mr. Hull picked the appropriate people,” responded Selectman Chair Kevin Caira.

“I have no personal relationship with Patrick Giroux, Nancy Vallee, or Lilia Maselli,” responded Hull.

“I inquired of Analog Devices because I felt it was important to have a representative from Analog, the largest employer in town,” began Hull. “They could look at the town from a different, non-insular persepctive, as a corporate citizen that sees Wilmignton and can compare it with all the other places it does business with. Their General Manager wasn’t able to get invovled, but one of his assistants, [Lilia Maselli] was. She happens to be a Wilmington resident [and small business owner].”

“Patrick Giroux sent me an email expressing interest. I interviewed him. He seemed like a sharp, young guy. Because of his background [in commercial real estate], I thought he’d be an appropriate person to serve,” continued Hull.

“I spoke to Nancy Vallee because of her position on the Chamber of Commerce,” added Hull. “There isn’t any dark conspiracy I went through in trying to select these people.”

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