Outgoing Seekonk Selectman John Whelan said he had been "knocked down as low as I can go," but promised that he will persevere and be vindicated. He made the comments while holding back tears at his final selectmen meeting on Wednesday.
The nine-year selectman was arrested last month for allegedly shoving his estranged wife. He has pleaded innocent to a charge of assault and battery domestic. The case is pending.
"There have been a lot of lies said about me lately and I will be vindicated," Whelan said. "Twenty years I've given to this community. For those of you who know me, don't ever forget what you know about me. For those who don't know me that want to assume what they think about me, you know where you can go. And I'll be there right with you one day. I've danced with the devil. I've paid the piper."
Whelan was first elected to the board in 2003. He was re-elected twice, including as a write-in candidate in 2006. Whelan announced last fall that he would not seek a fourth term. The 42-year-old Seekonk native got involved in local politics 20 years ago as a representative at Town Meeting.
"I've given all I could to this community and I've been honest," Whelan said. "Anybody who thinks otherwise, you don't know me and I don't want to know you."
Whelan thanked his supporters, who he said are the majority in Seekonk. He added that he is not asking for any sympathy, but rather "some goddamn respect."
He concluded with a commentary on why few people run for office in Seekonk and other nearby municipalities.
"There's a damn good reason why you have the same candidates over and over and over … only so many can take it and get pushed until they are pushed over the edge," Whelan said. "And then you realize once you push them over the edge that they were damn good people."