George Hansel

Hansel

At his request, a Keene city councilor will be recused from all future votes pertaining to the Monadnock Economic Development Corp. due to a conflict of interest.

The City Council voted 10-4 to recuse Councilor George S. Hansel from all future votes pertaining to MEDC.

Councilors Terry M. Clark, Randy L. Filiault, Carl B. Jacobs and David C. Richards dissented, while Councilor Stephen L. Hooper was absent.

Hansel, who is also running in November’s election as a mayoral candidate, is the vice chairman of MEDC’s board of directors, with a term that expires Dec. 31, 2020.

He submitted a letter to the council Aug. 2, asking his colleagues to consider whether that presents a conflict of interest, though he gains no personal financial benefit from any transactions or agreements between MEDC and the city.

Hansel told the council Thursday, “while our rules state pretty clearly that a financial interest is necessary to substantiate a conflict of interest and recusal during a vote like this, the question just came up in my mind: My fiduciary responsibility, does that represent a financial interest, according to our rules?”

Clark thanked Hansel for bringing the matter to the council but argued there’s no conflict, noting that plenty of councilors have served on boards for nonprofit organizations over the years during their tenure. He also alluded that a councilor’s fiduciary responsibility to the city should take precedence over another agency.

But Councilor Mitchell H. Greenwald, also a mayoral candidate, disputed that MEDC is similar to other nonprofit organizations.

“The situation’s a little different than being on the board of directors of the Lion’s Club, the rotary [club] or you know, something of that sort, where MEDC does have negotiations and partnerships with the city,” he said. “I tend to agree with Councilor Hansel that perception is important, so I would move to grant the request.”

Sierra Hubbard can be reached at 355-8546 or at shubbard@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @SierraHubbardKS.