ATTLEBORO — City Councilor Julie Hall received a $1,000 donation from the applicant for a medical marijuana permit that Hall got through the council.
Hall’s campaign for state representative received the contribution from Derek Ross, chief executive officer of Bristol County Wellness Center.
The council has granted the firm a special permit for a medical marijuana facility in an industrial park off County Street.
She said the donation was not in any way a reward for her work on the permit.
“Absolutely not, I don’t think any of my supporters do it to reward me. What would they be rewarding for?,” she said.
“I would hope they are doing it because they believe in me; do it because they like the way I handle issues and challenges and think I will make a super representative.”
Former City Councilor Jonathan Weydt, a harsh critic of Hall’s, first raised the issue of the donation, bringing it up on Facebook and elsewhere.
He said the proposed marijuana facility was not the required distance from a residential zone, but Hall got it through the council anyway.
At the time Hall was the chairwoman of the zoning committee.
City Solicitor Lauren Galvin had said that confusion over the zoning should not disqualify the applicant.
The council is now working toward clarifying the zoning requirements.
“As you know, I am one of 11 council members. I don’t have the authority and, more importantly, I would not engage in any activity to allow anyone to violate zoning,” Hall said.
She said the council had to act in time so the company could proceed with its application to the state.
Hall’s Republican opponent in the March 6 special primary election, Jeff Bailey, said someone seeking to be a state legislator should avoid the appearance of “business as usual.”
“I believe elected officials should go out of their way to avoid all appearance of impropriety,” he said.
“It is disappointing that Councilor Hall seems to be untroubled by the concerns being raised by this donation.”
He said he would oppose backroom deals if elected.
Ross could not be reached for comment.
Hall said she receives many donations, including some for $1,000.
Up-to-date campaign finance reports are due to be filed with the state next week, but year-end-reports dating to Dec. 31 are on file now.
In Hall’s report, she reported having $7,306 in the bank, the most of the five candidates in the special election.
She received one other $1,000 donation in the last reporting period, from Paulette and Mark Rioux, who list their occupation as real estate.
Bailey had $5,161 on hand, including $1,000 from former City Councilor Cherie Felos, now a resident of Tennessee, and Tom Breuer of Winchester, Mass.
Democrats reported lesser amounts. Ty Waterman had $3,595, Paulo Salgueiro had $182, and Jim Hawkins had $2,710.
Hawkins loaned his campaign $2,000 and Waterman loaned himself $5,000.
The March 6 special primary election and April 3 special general election are to fill the state representative seat vacated by Paul Heroux when he became mayor.