WILMINGTON — Several members from the community spoke up during public comments at the most recent Board of Selectmen meeting to share well wishes with Chairman Jonathan Eaton, given that it will be his last meeting on the board. Eaton had announced previously that he would not be seeking re-election and is running for Town Moderator in the annual town election.
Former Selectman Mike Champoux started the trend that two others continued. He mentioned Eaton’s ability to carry a meeting and mediate conversation with a calm demeanor.
“I admire and respect you. I’m very fortunate to call you a friend,” he said. “I wanted to thank you for your years of service: three here on the board and six on the Finance Committee.”
He went on to say that he looked forward to the result of Eaton’s run for Town Moderator and continuing his service to the town.
Judy O’Connell called in to give her thanks to Eaton.
“You’re a confident professional and you’ve done such a great service to the town,” she said.
She referred to him as an ally and a joy to work with. She added that she was thrilled to see Eaton run for moderator and wished him the best.
Veterans Services Director Lou Cimaglia also dialed into the meeting to wish Eaton luck. He said he admired the chairman’s leadership during a very difficult year.
The rest of the board’s acknowledgements and congratulations began with Selectman Greg Bendel.
“When I think about a positive leader that I want in my community, I think of someone like you,” he said. “I’m not surprised that it didn’t take you long to fill a void that the town had.”
He mentioned how he understood Eaton’s decision to move in a different direction with his service to the town that would also allow him to put his family first.
Kevin Caira thanked Eaton for his leadership and professionalism in being prepared. The advice he offered was to “speak loudly and carry a big stick.” He wished him well and said he cherished their friendship.
Gary DePalma said that he was grateful for Eaton’s help and mentorship to him as he came onto the board this year.
“You are an asset to the town. I’m glad you’re going to stay with us.”
Jomarie O’Mahony called out Eaton’s ongoing use of notebooks and journals for everything as she presented him with a final journal.
“I look forward to our continued conversations,” she said. “And I look forward to driving you crazy at Town Meeting.”
She appreciated the like-mindedness they had shared with their legal backgrounds and overthinking.
At this point, DePalma and Bendel also shared gifts with the chairman. Bendel brought forward a plaque and a gavel given in recognition for Eaton’s devoted service to the town as a member and chairman on the board.
Eaton addressed all of their thanks in a final comment. He first recognized all of the work that goes into the Board of Selectmen meetings.
“I’d like to thank my colleagues because I think we’ve done a pretty good job putting our differences aside… to move the town in the right direction,” he continued. “Just as chair, it’s made my job easier when we could do that.”
He not only thanked those who voted for him to join the board but also those who didn’t.
“I’m appreciative of those who didn’t vote for me but gave me the opportunity to gain their trust.”
He said that his time on the board has been extremely rewarding.
He then encouraged residents to become part of driving change here in town.
“If you want the community to be better, get involved. Do what you can with what you have,” he said.
He specifically thanked his wife, his children, and his parents for their support during his time on the board and for reminding him to let loose on occasion.
Finally, Eaton thanked Town Manager Jeff Hull for his collaboration and all of the town’s employees for their grit, flexibility, and creativity.
“It’s difficult for me to accurately convey my level of appreciation,” he said.
He finished by saying that it was a great honor to be a small part of such a great team in Wilmington.