Edgartown selectmen Monday bypassed the recommendation of the town’s water commissioners and voted unanimously to appoint Jim Kelleher to fill a vacancy on the town water commission.
The vote followed a joint meeting with water commission members Robert Burnham, chairman, and John Lovewell to fill the seat left vacant following the resignation of Bill Erickson.
The water commission is an independent board, elected by voters, to oversee the water department.
In the discussion that preceded the vote, Mr. Burnham said the commission was looking for someone well versed in water-quality issues. He nominated William Waterway, an author and water-quality advocate.
“I see one individual who is overly qualified,” Mr. Burnham said. “He has a background in history, education, work related, in the water industry.”
Selectmen Margaret Serpa nominated Mr. Kelleher, a plumber who has operated a business in Edgartown since 1991.
“The one thing you didn’t mention, is someone with a business background,” selectman Art Smadbeck said.
In the past, selectmen have criticised the water department for reluctance to adopt the accounting system used by most town departments. Also, reimbursement of federal grants was delayed this year, because federal officials said the water department did not send the proper documentation.
“I hate to think of us as businessmen,” Mr. Burnham said. “I know we’ve had some issues in town finance, but I don’t know that we need a business degree. I think the priority would be water quality and water quantity.”
Mr. Burnham and water commissioner John Lovewell voted for Mr. Waterway. Ms. Serpa, Mr. Smadbeck, and selectman Michael Donaroma voted for Mr. Kelleher.
Under the town’s bylaws, selectmen and the water commissioners appoint by majority vote to fill a vacancy. The appointed commissioner serves only until the next annual town elections.
Also Monday, selectmen appointed Steve Ewing the town’s poet laureate.
Mr. Ewing, who operates a marine dredging and dock building company, said he would rather be called the town poet.
“I’m really honored,” Mr. Ewing said. “Poet laureate is kind of a fancy term. I’m just a local kid that likes to write.”
Mr. Ewing read Thanksgiving prayer entitled “For All,” as his first official act. He said he would begin work on the only official duty of the Edgartown poet laureate, to compose and read a poem at the annual town meeting.
For all we have
Not all we think we need
For all the mountains
Broad valleys, deepest seas
For all our dreams
The friendships that we gain
All our pain
For all the love
That blesses us with peace
We pray for strength
Sustain us fore we feast
We praise this force
That graces us in need
And pray for peace
In every word and deed