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Budget Committee appoints Corry in close vote

September 16, 2009
After reviewing applications, asking countless questions, and making two rounds of votes, the Gilford Budget Committee chose Mark Corry to replace Bill Phillips, who resigned this past summer.

Corry will sit in on the remainder of Phillips' term. During the committee's first meeting of the season, members debated their decision carefully, recognizing that Philip Pat LaBonte, a lifetime Gilford resident and prior committee member for 15 years, appeared just as qualified.

In the midst of voting, the third applicant, Linda Kangur withdrew herself from votes, claiming she did not have the caliber of experience in the town that Corry and LaBonte did since she was not a resident for nearly as long. The vote for the remaining two nominees almost ended in a tie, but Corry wound up with a slight majority.

LaBonte, a member of the Board of Selectmen and the Fire Engineers for nine years, as well as a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment for six years, appeared to be more than qualified, and according to Budget Committee member Doug Lambert, fitting and "fiscally conservative" for the committee. Committee member Terry Stewart made the first motion to appoint LaBonte.

While waiting for a second motion, School Board Chair Margo Weeks interjected and reminded the board that Corry had done his fair share and shown his dedication to the town as well, and said she thought that the voting method should be taken in a new direction.

"It has been pointed out to me that a particular person (Corry) has participated and had a level of dedication and motivation by attending all the meetings and doing everything in between," Weeks said. "I am not so sure we should do this (vote on whether to appoint LaBonte) as a motion."

Weeks suggested that the committee go with committee chair Dick Hickok's first approach, which was to vote on each applicant.

Lambert, who strongly backed LaBonte at that point, stood his ground on Stewart's first motion to appoint LaBonte to the committee.

"Pat represents a particular constituency in this group and this town. He has watched this town change through the years and brings a similar perspective as the last member," Lambert said. "The beauty of this community is the diversity of the people that live in the town. Pat would make a complete committee. The town really appreciates its roots and its history."

The committee split over LaBonte and Corry, Corry being a software and business analyst and a resident of Gilford for 20 years who sent his children through the entire Gilford school system. He ran for one of three open positions on the Budget Committee last March, finishing fourth out of seven applicants in the competition.

Committee member Kevin Roy said he found this most appealing about Corry as an applicant, the fact that Corry ran in the last election and finished so close.

The committee then decided to vote instead of making a motion, while Hickok chose to abstain from a vote in order not to make a tie or influence anyone else's decision, until he felt he needed to interject. Corry ended up winning the first vote five to four and the second vote six to four when Hickok stepped back into the vote after committee members asked that he do so in order to settle the matter once and for all.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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