On July 30th the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Health met to decide who would be the interim member for the vacant BOH seat. As many of us know, there have been many concerning actions, decisions, and developments coming out of the BOH that have caused multiple residents to question the competency of its members to execute the necessary duties expected from the Health Department.
The hope was that the newest member appointed would help to bring not only stability in the department, but also the qualifications that would help decision making through this unprecedented time of Covid-19.
Thankfully, there was a very reliable experienced group of individuals who felt the need to put their names forth and offer their perspectives and experience to the BOH. What started as a glimmer of hope for the BOH, in my opinion, showed that the BOH had no intentions of inviting the best candidate onto the board.
There was, in the words of Mr. Ristuccia, a clear candidate who stood out from the rest, but unfortunately did not say that the individual was [Acushnet Fire] Chief Kevin Gallagher or for that matter any candidate with direct healthcare knowledge.
It’s no secret that the current BOH members have little to no experience in matters pertaining to public health and an individual like Chief Gallagher would have brought the qualifications and experience needed to fill this extremely important void in the board.
To many, the candidate who was chosen, was just another move by the BOH to ensure that a familiar and known individual was sitting with them. I would like to say that this letter is in no way an insult or grievance to the candidate who was chosen. The individual is a well-known member of this town who volunteers his time to make Fairhaven a better place.
When watching Chief Gallagher it was clear that he had the experience, professionalism, knowledge, and competency to move the BOH from shambles to a functioning knowledgeable department equipped with the tools to battle this pandemic. Not only that, but Chief Gallagher, who daily makes life saving decisions and coordinates essential personnel to always be ready when needed, decided to give more of his time to public service and the safety of his community.
One of the questions asked to the candidates was about Robert’s Rules of Order, due to this being a problem at the BOH. I’m sorry but right now the BOH has much heftier issues than whether the new member is familiar with Robert’s Rule of Order. If this issue persists for the BOH, maybe it is time to do an internet search or buy a book instead of questioning candidates about it when the BOH is in disarray. I personally would be more than happy to order the book, and have it delivered to the BOH if this would prove to be beneficial for them.
I hope Chief Gallagher doesn’t take this decision to heart and decides to run again when the seat becomes available. Fairhaven and the BOH need him and his expertise, he already has my vote.
I daily contemplate about getting involved in the town. I have lived here my whole life and am currently raising my children here. When I see decisions like this taking place it is disheartening.
It shows new faces are automatically at a disadvantage, and those who have been in town politics for far too long, will side with the comfortable, knowable, and predictable face. Again, I do not want this to come off as an insult to the candidate who was chosen, but I couldn’t sit silently when a huge disservice has taken place.
The BOH lost the opportunity to show it is serious about the duties it is called to execute.
There has been talk in the town of trying to disband the BOH and I hope that changes can be made so that does not become a necessary move. For the sake of the health and safety of this town, I urge the BOH to get their act together and prove to residents they can be trusted.
Seth Baumgartner, Fairhaven
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