HAMPDEN — The Town Council was so reluctant Monday night to accept Michael Hastings’ departure that half the time devoted to discussing his situation was spent trying to decide whether he had to forfeit his seat on the council or resign.
The other half was dedicated to thanking him for his service.
In the end, the council unanimously accepted Hastings’ forfeiture of his seat, but the vote did not come easily.
“It is with real reluctance that we accept this,” Town Council Mayor William Romano told Hastings, who was in the audience Monday night. “As you saw tonight there was a lot of emotion. I, for one, thank you for your years of service.”
Hastings was elected last November to a second term as the District 3 councilor, but only days later got on offer on his Main Road North home, which had been on the market for over a year. About the same time, he and his wife, Sharyn, found a new home they liked on Short Wharf Road.
The Main Road North home is located in District 3. The Short Wharf Road house is not.
The town charter is clear that district councilors must be registered voters and live in the district they represent when they run for office. Hastings met both qualifications last November.
What the charter does not spell out is whether a district councilor, once elected, must remain a resident of that district. According to Town Attorney Thomas Rusell, however, the intent of the charter is clear, even if the language is not: District councilors should be residents of their districts for the duration of their terms.
After some discussion, the council voted to hold councilors to the charter’s residency qualifications for the duration of their terms.