By Alex Lippa
---- — ATKINSON — It took a couple of years, but Bill Baldwin has finally took his place with the rest of the selectmen. Baldwin had his first meeting as selectman last night after being elected at Town Meeting.
“It feels wonderful,” Baldwin said. “The people were overwhelmingly supportive of me and I don’t take that for granted. I hope to do the job they elected me to do and then some.”
Baldwin, 42, said he is trying to get a feel of what is needed out of him and the dynamics of the board in his first couple of weeks. The new selectman said one of his first orders of business was addressing the state of the Elderly Affairs Department and Police Department following the firing of former police Chief Philip Consentino.
“I want to be as proactive in possible in having the programs move forward and having it be even greater than it was,” Baldwin said.
Since the police chief vacancy opened up, Baldwin said he has been encouraged by many to pursue the job. But he denied all interest in the job last night.
“I want to be part of the process and help lead the community in the direction that they want it to go in,” Baldwin said. “At this point in juncture, I have no interest in that police chief position at all. I’m happy where I’m at in Plaistow right now.”
Baldwin worked in Atkinson for 14 years before moving to the Plaistow department in 2011 where he is a lieutenant.
Because of his position in Plaistow, Baldwin said he’s heard skepticism that he won’t be able to vote on certain topics due to conflict of interest. But he doesn’t anticipate there will be any problems.
“I don’t see any conflict,” Baldwin. “I’m a resident here. I don’t work for this town anymore and I have experience and knowledge in other areas which will lend itself here.”
Baldwin defeated longtime selectman Fred Childs at Town Meeting earlier this month. Childs had been a selectman for 12 consecutive years. Baldwin ran after losing out to Todd Barbera for selectman last year.
Prior to the meeting, new Selectman’s Chairman Bill Friel thanked Childs for his service to the town and welcomed Baldwin to the board. Friel was voted as chairman by the board, as it is the third and final year of his term.
While Friel appreciated Childs’ service, he said he is looking forward to the future of the board with Baldwin on it.
“It’s exciting because you get a new perspective on things,” Friel said. “He knows more of the residents than most new selectmen because of his career. We’re going to lean on him for a lot of experience.”
That experience already came in handy last night. Baldwin was a key part of a discussion about switching health care providers for full-time members of the Police Department.
In addition to his police experience, Baldwin also served as a member of the Timberlane Regional School Board for 10 years. Last night, Town Administrator Bill Innes named him as the selectmen’s liaison to the Timberlane Regional School District.