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Planning Board Votes to Put Forward Newcomer Jessica Sunderland to Fill Seat of Retired Paul Raymond

The Planning Board held a special meeting to vote on who they wanted to put forward as a replacement for Paul Raymond, the member who retired suddenly last month, to a joint meeting with the Select Board that will be held on Monday.

According to members discussing the process, the town bylaws as currently worded state that replacing a member by appointment will be done with a joint meeting of the two boards and that the candidate must receive at least six votes of the two boards.

During Tuesday’s night meeting the board said they had narrowed the list of candidates down to three from the original six applicants, five of which were interviewed in another joint session last week. The three finalists were former Planning Board member and current Town Meeting member Jack Kelly, former Select Board member Chris Hartling and businesswoman Jessica Sutherland.

Most members stated they were leaning towards Kelly based on his experience as a member and his work as an attorney.

“In my opinion the stand-out candidate is Jack Kelly,” member William Gaffney said. “He brings a lot of experience from Town Meeting and many years on the Planning Board. Jack, every meeting he would come to, would bring legal experience and I have very high regard for him.”

“I don’t think there is a person who could apply who would be more experienced than Jack Kelly based on his time on the board and his legal experience,” member Joe Impemba said. “His experience is unmatched.”

Member Barbara L’Heureux said she was also in favor of Kelly but said that based on comments from members of the Select Board was concerned he would not receive the necessary votes.

“Jack doesn’t have the support of the Select Board for reasons I don’t understand or can innumerate,” she said, emphasising it was necessary to fill the seat so the board can perform its functions to the best of its abilities. “That could have been bad for the board except that we have another highly qualified candidate in Jessica Sutherland. Her corporate experience will translate well to the board and I think she will be very hardworking.”

When Board Chair Brenda Rappaport said she would not vote for Kelly over Sunderland that began changing the tide among the other members.

“Jessica has my vote,” she said. “I don’t know Jack personally but I understand he has a lot of experience but I also feel it’s time to bring in new concepts and new ideas. Our town is changing for new generations and I think it’s time for a new generation to step up.”

In the end the Board voted 5-1 to bring Sunderland forward to the joint meeting.

Sunderland is currently an employee of Care.com, an online business connecting people to caregivers that fit their needs, where she is part of the company’s emerging business division and is currently filling in for the VP of Marketing where she  manages between $14-15 million per month. Previously she worked for CVS Health and has a business degree from Bentley University.