Thursday, April 24, 2014
By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling firstname.lastname@example.org
FAIRFIELD — Twin resignations earlier this month left Fairfield’s town government shorthanded and the remaining members of the town council uncertain about who would come forward to fill the void.
Now, five candidates have formally expressed interest and the council is poised to make a decision on who will help lead the town into the future.
Vying for an open slot on the council are three former members: Jim Murray, Tracey Stevens and Bill Bois.
Meanwhile, educators Jamie Soule and Andy Carlton are seeking an open seat on the School Administrative District 49 board of directors.
The council’s four current members are scheduled to make decisions on both posts during their Wednesday evening meeting.
Both seats were unexpectedly vacated shortly after the November elections, when voters elected Richard Letourneau and Aaron Rowden to the council; and Arel Spaulding and Stewart Kinley to the school board, all for terms beginning in January.
But at the beginning of this month, Letourneau and Mike Bolduc, a different member of the school board, both resigned. They cited career changes that would take them out of state and limit their ability to perform their municipal duties.
The council is expected to choose a fifth and final council member early in its meeting.
Murray completed a three-year term last year as the council’s vice-chairman before losing a bid for re-election against Letourneau and Rowden.
Town Manager Josh Reny said there is no burden on the council to seat Murray, who was the next-highest vote-getter in the November election.
He said the vote tally in that election could be interpreted as a show of support, or of rejection, by the voting public.
“There’s no way to know for sure,” he said.
Stevens, who is a former Fairfield town clerk, also recently completed a one-year term during which she served as the chairwoman of the council.
Bois, who has also been active in town affairs, served on the council from 1998 to 2001.
The candidates have all made headlines in recent years for their views on various municipal issues.
In 2012, when many municipalities including Fairfield were grappling with the issue of fireworks, Bois called for an outright ban in the town.
The town council ultimately restricted fireworks usage to just a handful of days throughout the year, including the Fourth of July.
In June, Murray and Stevens joined the rest of the council in urging voters to reject the school district budget of $23.7 million.
Murray said the district was spending too much on maintenance projects, while Stevens said the district’s budget process needed to be more transparent.
The town’s voters did reject the budget, but it was ultimately adopted districtwide with support in Albion, Benton and Clinton.
Once the new council member is chosen and seated, the full council will make a decision on filling the open slot on the school board.
Carlton is the assistant principal at Oak Hill High School in Wales, part of RSU 4, while Soule is an administrator at Erskine Academy in South China.
Carlton lost an election bid for the school board in 2011.
The council is also scheduled to form a labor negotiations committee during Wednesday’s meeting. Earlier this month, members delayed the formation of the committee, citing a desire for the new council member to have an opportunity to participate in the process.Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287 email@example.com Twitter: @hh_matt