DERRY — Town Council Chairman Michael Fairbanks hopes for good behavior.
At a recent meeting, Fairbanks said someone mentioned to him he might want to brush up on his rules when it comes to how to run a meeting.
“Someone whispered in my ear that I should brush up on Town Council rules and Robert’s Rules,” he said.
The suggestion came, Fairbanks said, after previous meetings and budget workshops during which statements and opinions often grew heated among councilors and the public.
Derry’s Town Council traditionally operates under its own set of rules, according to the town’s charter. The classic guidebook Robert’s Rules is the fallback choice for how to operate a meeting when council rules don’t cover a specific topic.
With three new faces on the Town Council, the dynamic is new and personalities are still growing into a comfort zone.
Fairbanks was elected to the council in March 2012; this year, he took on the chairman’s duties. He said he wants to make sure everyone is on the same page and understands the process while on his watch.
“Any councilor speaking will be allowed to speak, to finish, without being interrupted,” Fairbanks said.
He added councilors have many opinions, but he doesn’t warrant any disrespect when it comes to honoring those differing views.
That also goes for behavior during the public forum portion of meetings. In past weeks, opinions and statements toward councilors got a bit heated. But Fairbanks said he believed everyone getting up to speak was respectful.
“That’s what I would expect from the public,” he said. “What I was hearing were questions, opinions, suggestions and requests.”
Other councilors said the new group still needs time to become familiar and not fall into attack mode when discussions get emotional.
“As to the council working as a cohesive unit, time will tell,” Councilor Neil Wetherbee said. “We need to keep our focus on the future and stop rehashing the past.”