Less than 48 hours after the filing period began, four Keene residents had declared their intent to run for two vacant seats on the City Council.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Frederick B. Parsells had filed to represent ward 4, while Kate Bosley, Teresa “Terri” O’Rorke and Margaret M. “Maggie” Rice had submitted applications for the vacant at-large seat.
Rice stepped down last month from her position as one of two ward 4 councilors because her move to another part of the city made her ineligible for the role. Councilors accepted letters of resignation from her and At-large Councilor Bartlomiej K. “Bart” Sapeta, who also cited an impending move in his letter, at their June 20 meeting.
The at-large seat is open to any registered voter in Keene, but the other position is restricted to residents of ward 4, which runs northwest from downtown along Route 12 to the Surry border. (For a map of all five wards, go to ci.keene.nh.us/city-clerk/elections-voting, and look under “Where Do I Vote?”)
Per Keene’s city charter, the sitting councilors vote to fill vacancies with people who then serve through the next election. (The terms for these positions will run through Dec. 31.)
Both positions will then appear on the ballot in the city’s elections this fall: for a typical two-year term for the at-large seat, and the remainder of the ward seat’s term, which will run two years from Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2021.
Parsells, the only filed candidate thus far for the ward 4 seat, wrote in his application that he’s lived in the ward for 47 years. A former police officer and city councilor in Keene, Parsells wrote that he has “no agenda,” aside from keeping the election fair for any residents who intend to run in the fall.
“I have no intention of serving beyond the end of this year,” he wrote.
Rice wrote something similar in her application for the at-large seat. Elected in 2017 at 23 years old, Rice became the youngest city councilor in Keene’s history. Mayor Kendall W. Lane appointed her to the ad hoc land use code steering committee, of which she is still a member, and as such, she’ll review proposals in the ongoing zoning and land use overhaul.
Rice is also the campaign manager for Councilor George S. Hansel’s bid for mayor.
Noting that she has the institutional knowledge for the council role, Rice said she also plans to “serve as a placeholder” through December.
“Some councilors and residents feel that appointing an individual with intentions to run for a council seat in the upcoming election will effectively become a city endorsement of that candidate,” she wrote.
But another applicant said she sees the interim position as a way to get her feet wet before trying for the two-year seat in the fall. Bosley is the general manager of her family’s in-home senior-care facility in Keene, Comfort Keepers, and she and her husband, Craig Henderson, also work together in real estate investing.
As a former president-elect of the Montessori Schoolhouse of Cheshire County’s board, Bosley told The Sentinel Wednesday that her involvement in the school’s move to Hurricane Road gave her valuable experience with planning, zoning, site plans and general contracting.
“I think that really having a woman who is a mother and an entrepreneur is kind of an important perspective that’s not really being given any voice at this point,” said Bosley, who has two young children.
She intends to run for the at-large seat in the fall, she said, regardless of whether she’s elected to serve through December.
O’Rorke echoed those sentiments Wednesday, noting that she plans to run for either an at-large seat or the available ward 2 spot in November.
Before moving to Keene nearly three years ago, O’Rorke lived in Richmond. There, she said, she dabbled in various forms of public service, with roles ranging from trustee of the trust funds to deputy town clerk. She was also one of the founders of the town’s newsletter, the Richmond Rooster. She worked for two decades as an emergency medical technician in town, including 12 years as captain of the rescue squad.
In Keene, O’Rorke is a member of the Monadnock Progressive Alliance and volunteers for several local organizations.
When she heard about the vacancies on the council, she said it seemed like an opportunity to “venture out.” She referenced her background in service, noting that this would be an extension of that.
The City Council will fill the seats at its Aug. 1 meeting after five-minute presentations from contenders. The ward 4 candidate will be chosen first, and the winner sworn in to then immediately join the councilors in voting on the at-large position.
Filing for the positions runs through July 15 at 4:30 p.m. Contact the city clerk’s office at 352-0133 with questions about how to file, or stop by City Hall.