Former Police Chief Takes on Incumbent Selectman in Ossipee

Ossipee — March 9, 2010 — A former Ossipee police chief is hoping on Tuesday to unseat a selectman who last year tried to go outside the police department to hire his replacement.

Ex-chief Rick Morgan Monday questioned selectman Kathleen Maloney’s “judgment” in attempting to hire an out-of-towner after his resignation. But he said it has provided no additional motivation for his campaign against her. The town votes from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday [today].

“I don’t hold grudges,” Morgan said, adding that the bid by Maloney and then-selectman Peter Olkkola to hire from the outside “has nothing to do with” his candidacy.

Responding to an outpouring from citizens, selectmen ultimately hired Morgan’s second-in-command, Donald Grow, for police chief.

Maloney said she had been advised by the Municipal Government Center that Kevin Smith, a candidate from Abbington Mass., stood out. But she hailed the people making final call.

“In looking at the resumes, I felt he was a good choice as well,” she said Monday. “Fortunately, the people stepped forward and reversed the selectmen’s decision.” “I haven’t seen a rise in crime, so apparently the job is still being done,” she added.

Morgan said he was unhappy with the direction of the board at the time, and even considered running last year until selectman E. Morton Leavitt stepped up.

Maloney touted her three years in office, which saw the historic dismantling of the town waste incinerator. One of a few that remained in New Hampshire, it was targeted by state environmental authorities as a source of air and water pollution.

She said under her tenure the town switched to “total recycling,” and is now reaping profits.

“That is making money for the town,” she said. “That was my vision, not only helping the town but the planet as well.”

Morgan said years as a firefighter and fire commissioner have given him perspective on a landmark study on consolidating the town’s three independently governed fire precincts. A public hearing will be held in the near future to air the controversial question.

Morgan said he needs to be convinced the measure, billed as money-saver, will ensure residents continue to get reliable services. And he said resistance will continue to crop up, in part because two precincts, West Ossipee and Ossipee Corner, will be carrying debt for new fire houses, while Center Ossipee’s station is paid for.

“You’ll have to ask Center Ossipee to pay for the others,” he said. “There are some things that are going to be a tough nut to crack for some people.”

According to Maloney, people said they wanted fire services looked at when they approved funding for the study. But she said fire chiefs found “holes,” and that concerns remained over how it could impact services in the spread-out town.

“Let’s talk about it, look at it and figure out the best way,” she said.

She said she’s tried to bring transparency to town government, urging citizens to turn out for public meetings.

“I’ve really enjoyed serving the people of Ossipee. I think I’ve met every challenge and I’ve learned quite a bit,” she said. “I want more people involved.”

Morgan pointed to his deep connections to community and town government.

“I’ve worked my whole life in town government,” he said. “I’ve spent my entire life trying to make the town of Ossipee a better place to live and raise families.”

Maloney added, “It’s all up to the people. The people will decide [Tuesday].”

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