Claremont residents call on City Council to remove ex-officer from appointed posts

Jon Stone. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Jon Stone. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

By PATRICK O’GRADY

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 04-12-2024 6:47 PM

CLAREMONT — City councilors are saying little about a scathing statement read by a local business owner at this week’s City Council meeting demanding the council remove their former colleague, Jon Stone, from two appointed positions he holds with the city.

“We are asking that he be immediately removed from his role as a Director of the Claremont Development Authority as well as his role of the Chair of the Policy Committee,” said Chiara Tosi-Nelson in a prepared statement.

Tosi-Nelson said the recent release of Stone’s personnel records when he served as a Claremont police officer nearly 20 years ago “paint an appalling picture of an unstable and violent man, whose behavior is frankly beyond the pale not just for an officer of the law or politician, but for any person who holds a shred of decency, dignity or respectability.”

Stone, a Republican state representative, who narrowly lost his re-election bid for a fourth, two-year term on the council last November, had fought the release of the records in court before losing his final appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court last month.

The records allege he made numerous threats of violence against the police chief, his family and his fellow officers. Those threats came after the department began investigating his relationship with a high school student.

Stone was appointed by the council to the Claremont Development Authority in March and is chairman of the Policy Committee, which includes councilor Wayne Hemingway. When asked about removing Stone from the CDA and Policy Committee, Hemingway said in an email he had no comment.

After Tosi-Nelson read her statement, with others in the audience expressing their support, the council did not comment nor did it later discuss Nelson’s demand.

Contacted the following day, five of the eight council members — Nick Koloski, William Limoges, Joel Tremblay, Jonathan Hayden and Andrew O’Hearne — did not respond to calls or emails asking if they supported Stone’s removal from the CDA and Policy Committee.

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Mayor Dale Girard said he was unsure how the council might proceed.

“I don’t know what to say at this point,” Girard said. “I will monitor the situation. I have not heard from any of the councilors on the issue.”

Assistant Mayor Deb Matteau said she has been giving the question of removing Stone some thought but has not reached a conclusion.

“I am still unpacking a lot of stuff,” Matteau said, adding that she has been busy this week with family visiting from out of town.

Trish Killay also addressed the council Wednesday, recalling several years ago, with a different council, that she was the subject of online threats from Stone when her husband spoke against religious symbols in the city’s Broad Street Park during the holidays.

“The council at the time couldn’t even do a censure (against Stone),” Killay said. “You (another council) failed me and failed my family. You have an opportunity here. You really need to take a stand.”

Tosi-Nelson said the CDA bylaws state members must be of “sound character.”

“I think we all agree that threatening members of the community with mass murder and child rape is pretty much the antithesis of sound character — and any members of the CDA may be removed by the City Council for reasons consistent with the best interest of the city.”

Tosi-Nelson, owner of the Claremont Spice and Dry Goods with her husband Ben, say it would be disappointing if city leadership continues to allows Stone’s presence in any official or unofficial capacity given the public knowledge about his police record.

“So, it is up to you to take him off now,” Tosi-Nelson said. “We are asking you to do the right thing. Mayor, assistant mayor, city councilors, will you do the right thing?”

Stone also serves as the Sullivan County Chairman of the Trump campaign. He was appointed last June.

Attempts to reach Stephen Stepanek, state chairman of Trump’s campaign, were unsuccessful.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com