HAMPTON — A longtime former town official returned to office Wednesday, sworn into the Budget Committee to fill a seat left open by a member who died New Year's Eve.
Jerry Znoj, a former member of the Board of Selectmen, School Board and Budget Committee, was appointed to serve on the Budget Committee until Town Meeting in March. He was selected to fill the opening left by Brian Lapham, who was found dead at 57 in his I Street home Dec. 31 by a visiting nurse.
Lapham had served on the committee since 2009 and was in the middle of a three-year term that was due to end in March. Police said when he died that his death was not believed to be suspicious. A memorial service for Lapham is scheduled to be held Sunday at 11 a.m. at Hampstead Congregational Church in Hampstead, according to his obituary.
"I was sorry to hear that he died," said Znoj, who served with Lapham on the Budget Committee. "He put many years into that Budget Committee."
Znoj, who first became a selectman in 2009, stepped out of politics in 2016 when he decided to focus on his family and personal life. He said in 2016 he was only taking a break and would consider jumping back into politics down the road, but he said his new appointment is not likely to lead to any upcoming run for office.
Znoj said he knew the committee needed help and agreed to do so for the few meetings that remain in this year’s budget cycle. The Budget Committee will meet Tuesday for its public hearing to finalize its votes on warrant articles before sending them to the town's deliberative session.
"You never really lose the taste for it, but you also need to balance off the rest of your life," said Znoj. "Right now, it's to fill that spot."