Despite questions about whether there was another candidate for the job, the Board of Selectmen and the Housing Authority held a joint meeting Monday night and appointed a new member to the five-member housing panel.
Mary Wesson, 77, of 13 Marwood Drive, will take the seat of Janice Burkholder, who resigned after moving to California in June.
Burkholder had been re-elected to the five-year post in March 2013, meaning her five-year term would have ended March 2018. Board members are paid a stipend of less than $1,000 a year.
During Monday night’s discussion, some selectmen wanted to delay Wesson’s appointment until another candidate, Donna Dooley of 19 North St., could be interviewed.
In an email to the board, Dooley said she couldn’t attend the meeting, but remained interested in serving the town “in some capacity.”
On Tuesday, Dooley said she did not go out of town as planned so she could have gone to the meeting, but decided not to. She said Wesson was a good choice for the post.
Selectmen Chairman Dan Kowalski said he wanted to delay Wesson’s appointment until he could hear from Dooley.
“I’d like to give her the opportunity to come to the board and present her interest in the position,” Kowalski said.
But Housing Authority members pushed for Wesson’s appointment, saying that if Dooley had been interested, she would have attended.
“I’d like to vote now,” Housing Authority member Francis O’Connor said. “We’ve gone through this process before. I’d like to vote.”
O’Connor on Tuesday said that Dooley had been invited, but didn’t show up.
“You set up parameters and you set a date and if you miss it, you’re out of luck,” he said.
There was also some question about the timing of the vote — and whether the Housing Authority gave appropriate notice to selectmen.
According to state statute, notice must be given within 30 days of the vacancy, after which a joint meeting must be held. Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski said the Housing Authority did provide notification within the 30-day window.
The two boards voted 7-0 in favor of Wesson’s appointment, with Housing Authority members John O’Donoghue, Dan Grams and O’Connor and selectmen Mary O’Donoghue, Paul Salafia, Alex Vispoli and Kowalski all casting affirmative votes.
Housing Authority Chairman Cal Deyermond and Selectman Brian Major were not present.
O’Connor called Wesson an “outstanding candidate” who does a lot of volunteer work with children and the elderly in town.
A 56-year resident of Andover, Wesson has six daughters and 13 grandchildren. Her husband was former Selectman Charles Wesson, who died in 2009. She is a retired Lawrence public school teacher.
O’Connor said he was happy with the way the appointment went.
“We had an excellent candidate,” he said, referring to Wesson. “I am delighted with her.”
Town Clerk Larry Murphy said that Wesson will be mailed a confirmation letter, after which she will be sworn in.
The Housing Authority manages 218 units of housing for the elderly and disabled, 56 units of housing for low-income residents and one home for developmentally disabled adults and administers 127 Section 8 rental assistance housing vouchers as well as three alternative housing vouchers.