DANVILLE — Selectman Russell Harding is weighing his options after fellow board members asked him to resign.
Harding was given a week to make up his mind after Selectmen’s Chairman Shawn O’Neil told him he was censured and requested his resignation at a meeting Monday night on behalf of the board.
Harding superseded his authority as a selectman Aug. 18 when he ignored police Chief Wade Parsons’ decision to cancel the town’s Movie Night because of a threat of rain, O’Neil said yesterday.
Harding, convinced it wasn’t going to rain, asked Parsons for the key and dragged the town’s projector, inflatable screen and other equipment to Day Field, even though residents were notified hours earlier that the movie would not be shown, O’Neil said.
It didn’t rain and one family showed up for the postponed event. But that doesn’t matter, O’Neil and other selectmen said yesteday.
“This is an issue where he far exceeded his authority as a selectman,” O’Neil said. “I used to admire his enthusiam, but enthusiasm doesn’t replace stupidity.”
Harding, 35, was elected to a three-year term on the board in March 2011.
He said he regrets what he did, but doesn’t think he should resign.
“If people were asked to resign for every mistake they made, no one would have a job,” he said yesterday. “Personally, I thought it was a little extreme. At this point right now, I’m a little frustrated.”
Harding helped organize the event, sponsored by the Recreation Committee and Police Department.
Harding said he received a text message that the movie would be canceled because of rain. Afraid the first-time event would be canceled for the second time and perhaps for good, Harding said he checked several forecasts.
There was only a 20 percent chance it would rain after 10 p.m., he said. Harding said he and Parsons exchanged many text messages that day, but the chief was firm in his decision.
Parsons could not be reached yesterday for comment.
Harding decided he would show the movie himself.
“I had spent a lot of time and energy hoping to make this work for the town,” he said. “I should have just let it go and I didn’t. I regret going overboard with it. In the end, I should have handled it differently.”
Harding said he’s gotten along with fellow selectmen and doesn’t know why they would ask for his resignation for making a single mistake.
“We have an excellent working relationship,” he said.
O’Neil and board Vice Chairman Chris Giordano said, generally speaking, Harding has been a good selectman.
Harding said he’s not sure if will he resign.
“I haven’t made up my mind,” he said.
O’Neil acknowledged there is nothing selectmen can do to force Harding’s resignation.
Giordano and Selectman Annemarie Inman agreed yesterday that Harding’s actions were inappropriate.
“We feel he overstepped his bounds,” Giordano said. “He was just adamant at going forward. It was just uncalled for. It’s unbecoming of a selectman.”
Inman said Harding showed a total disregard for authority.
“I really stand by the fact that as a selectperson, you have to be professional at all times,” she said.