Log In

Reset Password

After An Initial Stalemate--Council Elects Rodgers As Its New Chairman



Text Size

After An Initial Stalemate––

Council Elects Rodgers As Its New Chairman

By Jan Howard

The Legislative Council elected a new chairman and a vice chairman on December 3, but the process was not simple.

When the Democrats had picked up a seat on the 12-member council in last month’s local elections, the board was evenly divided, six to six.

It was anticipated following the election that naming a new chairman might be a difficult decision. That proved to be true.

Republican Joe Borst nominated Will Rodgers, and Democrat Peggy Baiad nominated Tim Holian, the former vice chairman, for the position.

Following three tied roll call votes, a lengthy discussion on the legality of a secret paper ballot vote, and two party caucuses, the members of the Legislative Council unanimously elected Mr Rodgers as chairman on the fifth ballot. Mr Holian was unanimously selected as vice chairman.

Following the paper ballot, which was also divided six to six, Mr Holian withdrew his candidacy and indicated he was changing his vote to Mr Rodgers. He asked his Democratic colleagues to join him in making the vote unanimous.

Prior to the election of the chairman, Town Clerk Cindy Simon served as temporary chairman. Following the first tied vote, Ms Baiad pointed to Mr Holian’s “admirable” job as vice chairman, adding he would make an excellent chairman.

Republican Joe DiCandido countered that Mr Rodgers had demonstrated leadership ability, but agreed that Mr Holian had done an excellent job as vice chairman. “They would make a good team,” he said. Republican Michael Iassogna pointed out Mr Rodgers’ leadership on the Ordinance Committee.

Newcomer Daniel Amaral, a Democrat, raised the possibility of a team effort as a solution, but that suggestion did not get very far.

Democrat Fran Pennarola noted it had been a pleasure to serve with both men. “Either one would make a good chairman,” he said, noting, “This is the only time when we show partisanship.”

After a second vote, a paper ballot was suggested. Richard Recht noted that someone willing to change his or her vote might find it difficult to do so as a public declaration. However, First Selectman Herb Rosenthal said according to the Freedom of Information Act, the public is entitled to know how members voted.

A third voice ballot also came up tied. At this point, it was suggested that the council wait to elect a chairman. However, it was noted that the council’s regulations call for election of a chairman at the first meeting.

Mr Rosenthal said years ago, had there been a tie vote, the first selectman, as ex officio member of the council, could have broken ties. However, he said, his father, when first selectmen, asked to have that changed. “I’m thankful for that,” he said. He noted that both candidates for chairman were very fine people. “I could work well with either person,” he said. “In six years I did not see issues on a party line. They are both fine individuals.”

A lively discussion followed on the legality of a written ballot under Freedom of Information regulations. Despite Ms Simon’s opposition, a motion was made and seconded to hold a written ballot. Ms Simon then ruled that it was an improper motion.

At this juncture, Mr Rodgers and Mr Holian were asked to speak as to their qualifications to be chairman.

Mr Holian said from a party perspective, it had been a long time since a Democrat was chairman of the council. He noted he had performed the role of chairman several times in the past two years. He mentioned his philosophy that it was important to make sure that everyone, council members and especially the public, is heard. “That is the foundation of being a chairman,” he said.

Mr Rodgers said he and Mr Holian could both bring their abilities to run a meeting to the table. He noted, however, “I’m usually not shy about speaking up,” he said, and that serving as chairman would be a “way to muzzle me.”

He said Democrats have the edge if both the Board of Selectmen and the council were to be considered. He noted it would be “healthy” to have a Republican heading the council, “though both of us could do a good job.”

After much discussion, it was decided to conduct a written ballot with names of the council members recorded, despite Mr Amaral’s statement that he did not see the difference whether the vote was written or oral. Three members voted against the paper ballot, Mr Pennarola, Mr Borst, and Mr Amaral.

When the paper ballot also tied, council members recessed into their second caucuses. Upon their return to the meeting, Mr Holian announced his withdrawal, and the fifth ballot, electing Mr Rodgers, took place.

In other business, the council voted to reappoint Ann Mazur as its clerk.

It was decided that an overview of the council’s committees would take place at the next meeting so members would be able to decide on which committees they would like to serve.

Comments are open. Be civil.

Leave a Reply