PEABODY — A city councilor has applied for an open position at the city’s light plant, and he has contacted two light commissioners about it, sparking the question of whether there would be a conflict of interest if he gets it.
Ward 5 Councilor Joel Saslaw confirmed that he applied for a job as a meter reader with the Peabody Municipal Light Plant and that he called two commissioners about it. He said he called the commissioners to learn more about the position. He also called city solicitor Michael Smerczynski for a legal opinion and said he was assured there wasn’t a conflict.
“It’s one job opportunity among other opportunities,” said Saslaw, 51, who works as a multimedia consultant. He defeated Bob Croce for a seat on the council in November. “If offered the job, I would obviously reach out to the state Ethics Commission. ... I would only ask for the same treatment as anyone else who was a candidate.”
Saslaw said he wasn’t lobbying for the job, but the commissioners “made it clear” to him they weren’t in charge of hiring at the plant — that’s up to the light plant’s general manager, Glenn Trueira.
According to Trueira, there are several promising candidates for the job, which is an entry-level position that does not require a college degree or prior training. A selection hasn’t been made yet but a decision would be made based on company policy, which is to hire the most qualified candidate, he said. As for ethical or legal conflicts that would be up to Saslaw to resolve if he were offered a position, but it is not something the light plant would get involved with, Trueira said.
Smerczynski said he is aware of the situation but has not researched the matter because he has not received an official request for a legal opinion. He previously served as the plant’s attorney, however, which gives him insight into the issues involved.