Burgesses appoint alternate to finance board
Mayor Robert Mezzo recommended the replacement, which burgesses debated before voting 5-3, with one abstention, to give the spot to Kiernan.
Some officials on each side of the vote accused the other side of playing politics.
“I believe it’s an election-year move on behalf of the mayor,” Katra said. “He’s trying to divide the Republican Party and I’m not going to let that happen.”
Mezzo and some others, however, said Katra was the one bringing politics to a board that is supposed to be apolitical.
Katra has been active on the Republican Town Committee and ran for burgess two years ago touting his credentials as a finance board member.
He made a speech last month nominating Republican candidate James O’Sullivan for mayor. In his four years on the finance board, Katra has made himself known as one of the more outspoken and conservative members.
“I think that is a place where politics does not belong,” Mezzo said. “That is the basis of my recommendation. That is the right of my office to recommend.”
Burgess Robert Neth, a Republican and a former chairman of the finance board, said he thought Katra used the finance board as a platform for outside political viewpoints. Neth, however, commended Katra’s dedication to the board and his willingness to ask questions and share opinions.
Neth said he struggled before voting against Mezzo’s recommendation to replace Katra with Kiernan.
“My vote is strictly based on that he’s dedicated,” Neth said. “I don’t like the political crap.”
Katra said he did not agree with their characterization of him.
“I am political, but I don’t see myself being political on the finance board,” he said.
Katra and two other finance board members — Andrew Bottinick and Aldo Pistarelli — have been serving on the board although their terms expired June 1.
Kiernan, also a Republican, has served for years as an alternate on the finance board. Some burgesses said they voted to replace Katra because they thought Kiernan was a qualified member who deserved to be moved up.
Burgess Robert Burns, a Democrat, said he chose to abstain because he did not want to vote based on a personality conflict.
“I don’t think it’s right and I don’t think it’s fair for either side,” Burns said.
After the vote, Katra thanked some burgesses for their support and asked to be considered for openings on other commissions.
Katra was appointed in the transition period while Republican Michael Bronko was mayor but Mezzo had been elected and was waiting to take office.
Democrats won the majority of the borough board that year and Mezzo said he was asked if he wanted them to block Katra’s appointment. Mezzo said he did not want to start his administration with a partisan tone.
“I do appreciate Matt’s service,” Mezzo said.