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COUNCIL SETS PROCESS TO FILL VACANCY
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (APRIL 5, 2021) – The Town Council is drawing off the results of the November 2020 election to fill the vacancy created by the departure of President Robert J. Sylvia.
During a meeting tonight from Town Hall, the council agreed the fairest, most equitable solution was to have Town Clerk Wendy J.W. Marshall reach out to the No. 8 finisher in the race – Kathleen B. Ventura – and see if she was still looking to serve. If she wasn’t, Marshall was tasked with moving to the No. 9 on the list – Christopher M. Logan – and continuing until a viable replacement was available.
At a quick moving conversation, council members reached consensus that the voters had spoken six months earlier and it made sense to listen to their wishes, especially after all the candidates had been so thoroughly vetted by the election process.
The item is expected to be up for discussion at the council’s next meeting on April 19.
“The work is already done for us,” Councilman Thomas P. Welch III said. “If we’re willing to use the (election) list, I don’t feel it’s our place to then reposition the people. It’s already done.”
“We could go through the advertising, even the interviewing process and take more time to handle another task on our plates,” Councilwoman Terri Flynn said. “We already have a list of the qualified people, the candidates that ran, and it would be very hard to explain to the people why we didn’t use this list. Each candidate campaigned, they took time with the voters, they spent money advertising putting out their message...We couldn’t possibly have more to ask them.”
On March 18, Sylvia submitted his resignation after 13 years on the council. In his letter to the town and during a subsequent interview, he cited personal reasons for stepping down and the desire to spend more time with his wife and family.
Tonight, the council unanimously accepted Sylvia’s resignation -- with regret. Then, Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said how the council handled the matter was up to the council itself, per the town charter, one of the documents that guides the town.
According to the charter, it’s up to the remaining six council members to decide how to handle filling the vacancy. The same was true with how to fill the presidency, but also the seventh spot.
No decisions were made by the council on any of the items tonight. The council was expected to at least name a new president at its next meeting.