With old administrator out, Hillsborough moves on
In 2010, before Galpin joined the board of selectmen, he said he heard complaints from town employees over their treatment by then-town administrator John Stetser. Allegations that Stetser was making other people do his job and was sexually harassing some of the town’s female employees were not news to his ears when he joined the board. And when those allegations kept coming, he tried to do something about it.
“I’m not a hero here. I didn’t do everything I probably should have done, but I tried twice to fire John Stetser and couldn’t get a second on my motions,” said Galpin. “The selectmen did not do their job in the past, and its cost us a lot of money.”
Stetser, who could not be reached for comment, resigned in June at the end of an investigation conducted on behalf of the board by attorney Emily Rice of Orr & Reno in Concord. Rice was hired to conduct an investigation of Stetser’s job performance and employee interaction after the board of selectmen received a letter from four female employees questioning the town administrator’s professionalism.
Galpin said the allegations, many of them involving sexual harassment, had been ignored by the previous board of selectmen, but the new board took action by bringing in Rice to investigate.
“We knew there was no way we could have done an unbiased investigation that would have been accepted by the townspeople, so we had to bring in an independent party,” said Galpin.
Although Stetser told the Union Leader in March that he was surprised by the allegations, Galpin said he had been told what the employees’ complaints were on many occasions but failed to modify his behavior, according to reports from the employees to the board. In fact, Galpin said, Stetser was accused of sexually harassing an employee on election day of this year, while Rice was conducting her investigation.
“When we heard that, we immediately turned the information over to Attorney Rice so that she could investigate it herself without us getting involved,” Galpin said.
At the end of the investigation, which cost around $38,600 in bills from Rice and another $8,000 for counsel with the town’s attorney, Galpin said, Stetser resigned.
Galpin wouldn’t say what the investigation uncovered because it’s been sealed, but he did say that Stetser resigned without asking for any kind of severance package or other compensation.
“That, above all, should tell you something,” Galpin said.
Now that Stetser is gone, the town is looking to move on, Galpin said. There are factions in town who have treated the women who complained about Stetser as though they’re the guilty parties, he said, and that has had an impact on morale.
“These women stuck their necks out there to right a wrong and they’re being treated badly because of it,” said Galpin. “They’re frustrated, and they have a right to be.”
But now the focus is on finding a new town administrator who can unify the employees at town hall and turn the attention back to the business of the town, Galpin said.
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