Franklin mayor to step down in May to become labor commissioner

  • Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield sits down the table from Executive Councilor David Wheeler before the start of a hearing for Merrfield's nomination as state labor commissioner.

Monitor staff
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ken Merrifield will step down as Franklin’s mayor sooner rather than later.

Merrifield was confirmed as the new state labor commissioner during Wednesday’s Executive Council meeting. He said he expects to take on the new role by the mid-May, at which point he’ll relinquish his current mayoral duties.

“As much as I would like to continue and fill out my term, the Executive Council had sufficient concern with that, that I’m going to have to leave the mayor’s office sooner than I wanted,” Merrifield said.

At a hearing last week, Merrifield suggested to councilors that he finish out his fifth and current term concurrently with his new job heading the New Hampshire Department of Labor.

The next Franklin election is in October, and in the meantime, the city is working through a difficult budgeting process for its schools.

But Executive Councilors worried about Merrifield juggling both duties.

“I’m concerned about the ability of anyone, frankly, to do both,” Andru Volinsky said.

With an agreement to step down as mayor, Merrifield was confirmed by a 4-1 vote Wednesday. Democratic Councilor Chris Pappas was the lone “no” vote.

Merrifield said the Franklin city council will have to appoint one of its own members to take his place for the remaining five months of his term. While the timing isn’t ideal for the Franklin school budget issue, Merrifield said he can always provide advice as a private citizen.

Plus, he added, “I know there’s a lot of wisdom on the city council and the school board.”

Wisdom of a new kind is what Merrifield will be seeking when his new job starts in a month.

“Truly, I want to meet the employees of the department and really see at every level of the organization what folks are working on,” he said. “What their frustrations might be, and their successes.”

(Elodie Reed can be reached at 369-3306, ereed@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @elodie_reed.)