RICHMOND — The conclusion of an otherwise routine Town Council meeting became contentious Tuesday when residents during the public forum criticized council President Nell Carpenter for approving the recent appointment of a developer to the Planning Board and for a recent post on social media.
Carpenter’s post, made on Dec. 31 on the Richmond Community Facebook page, accused a resident, whom she did not name, of child pornography and cyberstalking and of threatening her.
The post reads, in part:
“A convicted child pornographer and cyber stalker who sells vegetables is among you. Many know this truth but are afraid to speak up. I’m not afraid of him. Many take his word for gospel and praise his efforts. His recent method of attack includes racist ‘dark man’ statements and physical threats via private message.”
The post, and an ensuing thread of comments and replies, was deleted by page administrators later that day.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, resident Lucas Marlands said he had concerns about the social media post.
“Over the last week or so, there was a social media post that was made by the President and it was pretty distasteful, if you ask me, having children in the schools,” he said. “I understand the point of the post that was made, and I understand, based on that post, that there might have been some threats made, but it sounds like more of a police situation rather than calling a citizen of this community out on Facebook.”
Marlands asked Carpenter to apologize for her post.
“I don’t know the person, I don’t know the president, but after reading Facebook and seeing these comments and there’s not one apology during this entire meeting, I think that’s disgraceful. As an elected official, it should have come out the second the meeting started …. To me, that was defamation of someone’s character … I feel that you should be representing this town in a more professional manner as president.”
Marlands and others also took issue with the appointment of developer William McIntosh, who has taken the town to the state Housing Appeals Board over the denial of an approval for one of his projects. At the Dec. 15 meeting, the council approved McIntosh’s appointment by a 3 to 2 vote, with Richard Nassaney and Ronald Newman opposed.
“I don’t understand how someone who has a lawsuit against the town for something that he wants to build, he can get voted onto the Planning Board,” Marlands said. “… The Town Council member called it out, the town planner called it out. The town solicitor called it out. But yet the person was still voted in.”
Lisa Renee Tefft also questioned the McIntosh appointment.
“He has a lawsuit with the town,” she said.
Marjorie Aubee agreed.
“He got voted onto a board having a lawsuit against the town,” she said. “I don’t understand how that works.”
Council member Richard Nassaney asked Carpenter to apologize for her social media post and then asked her to step down.
“I would like to hear an apology from Ms. Carpenter for a statement that she made on Facebook which I though was rather distasteful,” he said. “…To sit here and be coy about it is not very admirable and I actually would call for you to step down, because I don’t think you are of the right disposition for running the town in a reputable and respectful manner.”
Carpenter did not address the Planning Board appointment, but she defended her right to protect herself from personal attacks.
“As an elected official, I have not lost the privilege or the right to speak my mind or to defend myself against people who are attacking me personally or attacking my character or threatening me via private messenger, physically, and my husband, who are accusing me of inappropriate behavior both behind the scenes and in the scenes,” she said.
Carpenter then revealed, in an emotional statement, that she had been the victim of abuse as a child.
“As a survivor of a child predator, as a survivor of molestation and rape, I will always stand up to someone who is bullying me, always, and this is a council chamber and this is where we vote, and this isn’t the Jerry Springer Show and this isn’t social media,” she said.
Nassaney said Wednesday that he still believed that Carpenter should step down.
“I was doing my job as a representative of the people of the town in asking her to step down,” he said.
Carpenter declined to comment when contacted Wednesday.