Nantucket Fire Union Weighs Vote Of No Confidence In Town Government
Jason Graziadei •
The fallout from the town's decision to pass over Deputy Fire Chief Sean Mitchell for the fire chief position continued to escalate this week, as the Nantucket Fire Union is considering taking its dispute with the town administration to a whole new level.
"Nantucket Professional Fire Fighters Local 2509 has formed an exploratory committee to determine whether a vote of no confidence should be pursued in regards to Town government," union president Jeff Allen said in a statement released late Wednesday. "This is in direct response to recent and ongoing events. We encourage all Town of Nantucket unions to join us. Please contact us at email@example.com."
Allen said "town government" refers to both the town administration and the Select Board. The "recent and ongoing events" is in reference the fire chief search process as well as "continued hobbling of the fire department. Budget, staffing, equipping and apparatus maintenance."
Contacted regarding the fire union's statement, town manager Libby Gibson said only “This is disappointing, but not surprising.”
Allen told the Current last week that the town's only finalist - Michael Cranson - had accepted the town's offer to become Nantucket's new fire chief.Allen said Cranson, the former fire chief of the Portsmouth, Rhode Island Fire Department, will start Oct. 1.
Gibson, however, would not confirm that Cranson has been offered or accepted the position and said the hiring process is not complete.
The only other finalist for the fire chief job, Chris Christopoulos, dropped out last week due to health issues, Gibson said.
Cranson's reported hiring comes after weeks of acrimony following the town search committee's decision to eliminate current Deputy Chief Mitchell from the group of finalists for the job.
Since then, the fire union - Local 2509 - and members of the island community have lobbied heavily for Mitchell to be named chief. A citizen's petition has been signed by at least 832 people, while the union has gone as far as issuing a "stand down" letter urging outside candidates not to apply.
Asked about the situation during his visit to the island last week, Cranson told the Current: “All I know, and what I can tell you, is that I’m prepared to step in and calm things down and provide some stability for the department. And level the playing field.”
Cranson, 50, has been in the fire service since he was a teenager, and retired as the fire chief in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in May 2018 after 27 years with the department.