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Two Temple officials resign over rescheduled voting

  • The Temple Village Green Committee beautifies Temple's public green spaces. Sept. 15, 2020. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/15/2021 3:30:39 PM

Two Temple town officials have resigned over the Select Board’s handling of scheduling town voting. John Kieley is resigning as Emergency Management Director, effective Feb. 19, and wife Connie Kieley resigned from her posts on four town committees, effective Feb. 9. Their resignations cite the Select Board’s decision to hold town elections in March despite the threat of COVID-19, as well as what they see as procedural violations related to that decision.

On the first day of February, the Select Board unanimously opted to postpone voting on the school district warrant and town items until June 8, but rescheduled voting to March 9 just days later in a two to one vote, on Feb. 5. Temple officials learned the town was actually required to vote on the school warrant in March in the days following the Feb. 1 meeting, Select Board Chair Ken Caisse said, and he motioned to reschedule the town vote to March, citing the potential for better voter turnout, even though it was legal for Temple to wait until June to elect town officials. Town Meeting remains scheduled for June 12.

The Kieleys found fault with that decision, and particularly the way it was made. The Select Board didn’t hold any public meetings between their Feb. 1 and Feb. 5 votes, but  Caisse scheduled a Feb. 11 budget hearing, a prerequisite for a March vote, the night before the Board voted to reschedule. Caisse confirmed that action on Monday, but simply said the Kieleys believed the action was out of order when asked whether that was the proper way to schedule such a meeting.

“I take full responsibility. I believed I was acting in the best interest of the town.  I did what needed to be done. There is a process to file grievances with the state and you are welcome to do that,” Caisse said of his decision, according to Feb. 5 meeting minutes, and said that although the Board did not directly discuss the voting date change with each other outside of a meeting, he spoke with the Town Moderator and Town Clerk, who were speaking to other Board members.

Caisse and Select Board member George Willard voted to move town voting to March, Bill Ezell voted against, according to Feb. 5 meeting minutes.

“This year’s different. March is different,” from the other elections held during the COVID-19 pandemic so far, Kieley said, with more contagious variants spreading through the country. “March is going to be, according to the CDC, the peak of these new variations,” he said, while more residents are likely to be vaccinated by June. Even if most residents opt for absentee ballots for the March elections, poll workers still have to show up in person. “Why would you do that?” Kieley asked.

His resignation is effective Feb. 19, and his letter encouraged his successor, who has not been named yet, to stay engaged on COVID-19 updates.

Connie Kieley resigned from her positions on the Temple Town Hall Advisory Committee, as well as the Village Green, Holiday Lighting, and Temple Land Use Committees, effective Feb. 9. Although she’d like to see this Select Board revert voting to June, a change in Select Board members would also be an improvement, she said. “As so-called leaders, their actions should be setting examples,” she wrote of Caisse and Willard in her resignation letter.  “Their behavior is the antithesis of how a Town should be run.”

Temple residents interested in voting absentee should request a ballot as soon as possible, according to a recent message from the Town Clerk available on Temple’s town website.


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