EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 13, 2014

Atkinson selectman results will stand

Consentino to be sworn in tomorrow

By Alex Lippa
alippa@eagletribune.com

---- — ATKINSON — Selectmen’s Chairman William Friel said he would not be seeking a recount after losing to former police Chief Philip Consentino Tuesday night.

Consentino defeated Friel, 801-786, in the contest for a one-year term on the Atkinson Board of Selectmen.

“In my opinion, the negative image that would be created by a recount is not in the best interest of the town,” Friel said yesterday. “I respectfully stand behind the results of the election and will fully support Mr. Consentino as our new selectman.”

Consentino could not be reached for comment.

The election results continued to be the talk of the town yesterday as residents discussed Consentino’s victory.

“I think there’s an element of forgiveness in a lot of people,” resident Kay Galloway said. “I think they took into account that he has great respect for the service he’s done for town and they want to give him a second chance.”

Consentino was terminated in February 2013 as police chief by selectmen following an independent investigation. Town Administrator Bill Innes has not commented on why Consentino was dismissed.

Consentino faced questions about his dismissal throughout the campaign, but has said that all allegations against him are “lies.”

Resident Patricia Goodridge said she voted against Consentino.

“I feel really sad for Atkinson with the election of Phil Consentino,” she said. “There is so much information out there that he has been damaging to so many people in town. I just can’t believe that there would be that many people in denial.”

Goodridge said she hoped that increasing the number of selectmen from three to five in 2015 would improve things.

:(Consentino’s) only serving for one year and hopefully a bigger board will balance things out,” she said.

Consentino was with the police department for 45 years. He also headed the Elderly Affairs Department for about 20 years. He has helped seniors throughout the years by providing transportation to medical appointments and with other services.

He also previously served for nine years as selectman, although not consecutively.

Yesterday, Innes said he was getting ready for Consentino to join the board.

“He’s been a selectmen before, he knows the job,” he said. “He’s been elected and he will be seated.”

Consentino and fellow new selectman Harold Morse will be sworn in at 5 p.m. tomorrow. Their first meeting will be Monday night.

Resident Catherine Persson, 83, said she is looking forward to Consentino joining the board.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “He has done so much for the town of Atkinson. It’s unbelievable. There are very few towns that have people that would go out of their way for the people of town. He’s always there if you need help.”

While Consentino does have support from the older population, he has seen his share of controversy in town.

In 2011, the town paid Municipal Resources Inc. to do an independent audit of the police department. That 20-page report included about two dozen recommendations, ranging from updating policies and equipment to hiring more officers.

Earlier this year, police Chief Al Brackett recommended moving the elderly affairs department from the police department to the community center. At candidates’ night last week, Consentino was against that idea.