Select Board member Ken Swanton stunned the other members at the end of Tuesday night’s board meeting by announcing that he was resigning. He said he planned to submit his written resignation to the town clerk Wednesday morning.
Swanton explained that his house, which has been on the market, had sold, and he and his wife, Daria, are renting an apartment in Concord for a year while she continues to work as a teacher in the Sudbury school system. After that year, Daria Swanton plans to retire. They have no definite plans beyond that point, he said.
Given that Select Board members must be Harvard residents, Swanton said, he had no choice but to resign, having been unable to downsize within town. “There’s not a lot of diversity in housing here,” he quipped a little later, referring to a topic that comes up frequently at many public meetings.
Swanton said he had been involved in town government for 35 years, both in Harvard and before that in Bolton. Speaking of the Select Board, he said, “This is a class board. It’s been an honor. I’ve really enjoyed serving.”
“We’ve enjoyed serving with you,” board member Kara Minar said, as expressions of shock turned to formal farewells.
As Swanton’s announcement sank in, members of the board pondered how and when the vacancy created by his departure could be filled. To add a town election to the Sept. 4 state primary election would require permission from the state, Town Administrator Tim Bragan said.
Wednesday morning Town Clerk Marlene Kenney confirmed that she would quickly ask the state for permission to piggyback a town election onto either the state primary in September or the state and federal election in November. But she added that the town must first hold a caucus to nominate candidates for the Select Board opening. And that caucus, she said, comes with its own timeline of requirements for advance public notice and then for time between caucus and election.