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Open Carmel Town Board Seat Debated

By Holly Crocco

The Carmel Town Board welcomed new Councilman Robert Kearns to its ranks during its Jan. 3 organizational meeting, following a swearing-in ceremony that took place a few days prior. However, during its first meeting of the new year, residents asked the board what its plans are for filling the seat left vacant by the sudden resignation of former Councilman Stephen Baranowski last month.

The town board can opt to appoint someone to fill the now-vacant seat, or leave it unfilled until the November election. According to election commissioners, a special election will not be held.

“Are we hiring anybody on the board here because we lost somebody?” asked Mahopac resident Frank Ciano.

Democrat Marsha Waldman had the same question.

“I, and many others, do think it’s urgently important that we fill the vacant seat,” she said. “We should have all the possible talent available to all our town in making informed, knowledgeable decisions.”

Specifically, Waldman urged the board to consider one of the two Democratic candidates who ran for town board in the November election – Jerome Mitchell and Kathleen Valletta – who garnered more than 2,000 votes from residents.

“We would like to see this kind of good talent put toward the benefit of our town,” she said.

“I hope the board does make the right decision and finds someone to fill the seat so they can get the people’s work done,” added Mitchell. “I find it difficult to see how you would be able to govern when you have four people and you need to have a tie-breaker.”

Valletta, who ran for New York State Assembly two years ago and Carmel Town Board last year, said the all-Republican board could benefit from representation from another party.

“We have a really good town and it’s being run very nicely,” she said. “It would be nice if we had another voice in here – if he had another opinion… I certainly hope you will fill the position. There’s an awful lot of work you guys are doing.”

Supervisor Mike Cazzari indicated that the board will opt to the open seat up for a public vote, which could take place in November.

“I believe the entire board feels that after this last election, let the people decide, not the town board,” he said. “Let it go to a vote and let everyone in town be transparent and elect the right person for the job.”

In the meantime, Kearns said the board is looking out for all residents, regardless of party.

“We are listening to everyone’s concerns and we are going to do our best to make sure all your voices are heard and we fight for each and every single one of you guys, no matter what side of the aisle you’re on,” he said.


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