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Select Board and Planning Board Approve Placing Businesswoman Jessica Sutherland on Planning Board

After some contentious discussion a new person has been named to the Planning Board to fill the seat left vacant after longtime member Paul Raymond retired last month.

During a joint meeting with the Planning Board and the Select Board, the two voted to place candidate Jessica Sutherland on the board to serve until the town election that will be held on April 1, 2023. If she wishes to remain in the seat after the election she will have to run for the seat.

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Jessica Sutherland

As reported by BNEWS, there is some vagueness in the town bylaws on the proper procedure to replace a member of an elected board and the confusion made possible by that was on display during the joint session. Select Board Chair Nick Priest explained that at the beginning of the process he and Planning Board Chair Brenda Rappaport decided there would first be a subcommittee with three members of each board that would recommend finalists. The Planning Board then held a meeting to decide which of the finalists they wished to put forward to the joint session, at which they landed on Sutherland over the other finalists – former Planning Board member and current Town Meeting member Jack Kelly and former Select Board member Chris Hartling. The final step would be the joint meeting where a candidate would need at least 6 votes to be approved.

During Monday night’s meeting, Planning Board member Barbara L’Heureux made a motion to approve the nomination of Sutherland and it was quickly seconded. Selectman Mike Runyan, however, said he wished to nominate Hartling and attempted to make that motion. He pointed out that the original subcommittee had three votes to recommend Hartling, two for Sutherland and one for Kelly.

“I thought the whole board had an opportunity to nominate somebody,” he said.
“I would like to make a motion we nominate Chris Hartling for a seat on the Planning Board.”

Priest explained they had to first have a vote on the first motion that was seconded and that was done through role call. Sutherland was approved by a vote of 8-3 with Runyan being joined by Select Board members Joe Morandi and Jim Tigges in voting against.

The general consensus among the members of the town boards is that there needs to be an effort in town to more clearly articulate the process and likely have an updated bylaw put before Town Meeting for approval.

Morandi explained he voted against the appointment because he was unhappy with the process but did not have anything against Sutherland being on the board.

“I don’t agree with the process but I think she’s a wonderful candidate and will do a great job on the board,” he said. “But as for the way this goes I agree it needs to be reworked. Now, I would like to congratulate her and end this discussion.”

Sutherland is currently an employee of, 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.