CLAREMONT — The Claremont City Council has voted Spencer Batchelder in as the newest member.
Batchelder was appointed after former council member Rocky Beliveau stepped down and the council called for applicants to fill the position. Beliveau cited a lack of time to be able to commit to the position, and felt it was unfair to the citizens of Claremont.
Three candidates were interviewed by the council, with Mayor Dale Girard asking each candidate questions in regard to their strengths, what they hoped to bring to the council, and how they hoped to improve it in one way or another. In addition to Batchelder, Mike Demars and Gary Savoie, each of Claremont, had submitted applications. Although there were three candidates in the running, members of the City Council suggested that they had received the most acknowledgement for Batchelder and Demars from citizens.
“I think we have a lot of great dedicated people that I respect sitting up there and I really just wanted to participate in that. I recently switched jobs from private sector to public and working for the state has afforded me more time. I look at our city and our need for the investment in infrastructure while still considering the best interest of the taxpayer,” Batchelder said.
“We’ve been making a lot of great strides with paving and the Pleasant Street Project,” he said. Batchedler, who currently works for the New Hampshire Department of Safety, said that while this isn’t the type of thing he would normally run for, he felt like this was the first time he has had the opportunity to balance it with his career. He also stated that due to the nature of his position with the New Hampshire Department of Safety he had experience and understanding of the technical and logistical side of operations for the city council. Batchelder has also sat on the Board of Trustees for the Fiske Free Library in Claremont.
Demars, who also put his hat in the ring, has served on the City Council previously. In the early 2000’s he had also served on both the Planning Board as well as the Conservation Commision. Members of the City Council also noted that in the previous election, Demars ran for an At-Large position on the Council, an election in which he received the fifth most votes. Members of the Council also pointed out that had one of the other members ended up with a seat not run, the position would have gone to Demars. It was for this reason, among others, that half of the City Council voted for Demars to take the seat.
While some members thought that to be enough reason to give the seat to Demars, others stated that not winning a previous election is enough reason to have someone voted to the Council. City Council member Matt Mooshian felt as though Batchelder was the only applicant who had done his due diligence stating, “Apart from the discourse regarding the election. I also want to point out that when we requested applicants to fill the seat, we asked folks to fill out a letter of interest, a resume and an application and only one applicant did that, and it was Mr. Batchelder.”
The City Council took a roll call vote that resulted in a two-way tie between Batchelder and Demars. Councilors Jonathan Stone, and William Limoges, along with Assistant Mayor Deb Mattheau and Mayor Girard all voted in favor for Demars. Councilors Matt Mooshian, James Contois, Andrew O’Heare and Nick Koloski all voted in favor of Batchelder.
“I wish we had two seats because I’d take both of them,” Koloski said following up with, “I’m interested to see what Spencer brings to the table.”
After a short recess a second vote was called with the intention of breaking the tie, however all members of City Council made the same votes they did the first round. In an attempt to break the tie, Matteau suggested drawing names from a hat, something Councilors on either side of the vote agreed not to do. In a third round of voting, each Councilor once again voted the same with the exception of Girard stating, “I’m not going to sit here all night, so we are going to go with Mr. Batchelder.” Girard closed the voting session by thanking the candidates and saying, “As you can see this was definitely a very tough choice among the candidates.”