By Daymond Steer
OSSIPEE — There will now be order at Carroll County Commission meetings — Robert's Rules of Order, that is, thanks to newly sworn-in county commissioner Mark Hounsell.
Hounsell, a longtime parliamentary procedures enthusiast from Conway, was sworn in Wednesday morning to his new position as the Carroll County Commissioner from District 1, which covers the northern part of the county.
Among others sworn in Wednesday were District 3 County Commissioner Amanda Bevard of Wolfeboro, Register of Deeds Lisa Scott of Sandwich and County Attorney Micheala Andruzzi of Wolfeboro.
Bevard and Hounsell replaced commissioners Chris Ahlgren and David Sorenson, neither of whom chose to run again.
At the beginning of Wednesday's commission meeting, commissioners decided that Bevard would be chair; District 2 Commissioner David Babson of Ossipee would be vice chair; and Hounsell would be commission clerk.
After deciding the makeup of the new board, Hounsell suggested that the board follow Robert's Rules of Order, which many governmental entities use for running meetings.
He also suggested creating the position of "parliamentarian" to interpret the rules.
He said the parliamentarian should be a commissioner.
Hounsell said taking these steps would reduce the number of complaints the county receives.
"All rules, if they are any good — and Robert's Rules are, in my opinion, very good, if not the best available — will get ourselves out of some difficult situations from time to time," said Hounsell.
"I've been coming to these meetings fairly consistently for the last 10 years, and I have seen no situation where parliamentary procedure has come into question," said Babson.
"I will vote against it because I feel the three of us, if we have a problem, ought to be able to work it out."
Bevard asked County Administrator Ken Robichaud whether the county has followed Robert's Rules in the past.
Robichaud replied: "I don't even know what Robert's Rules is. There would have to be learning time for us."
Bevard explained that pretty much all organized meetings use Robert's Rules. They involve people making motions and having discussions.
Hounsell said he's watched the county meetings on TV for years, and he finds that Robert's Rules would be helpful. He added that he wants to make sure that the new board of commissioners operates under rules from Day One.
"If we don't have a set of rules, that means we don't have a set of rules," said Hounsell. "If that's how we are going to operate, I'm free to operate under no rules, but I'm not sure that's what the people of Carroll County would like to have."
Bevard, a former teacher, said, "I always had rules in my classroom."
The voice vote to use Robert's Rules passed 2-1 with Babson in the minority.
Babson added that, speaking of rules, there were changes to the New Hampshire Right to Know Law going into effect Jan. 1.
Commissioners agreed they need to learn more about what the changes were.
Commissioners also agreed to let Robichaud write up a list of duties for the parliamentarian to consider at a future meeting.