Provision raises question on filling vacancy

1
11
Former Burgess Ronald San Angelo, right, closes out the Board of Mayor and Burgesses meeting July 2 next to Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi. The meeting was the last for San Angelo, who is starting his new job as town administrator for Hanson, Mass. on Monday. –FILE PHOTO
Former Burgess Ronald San Angelo, right, closes out the Board of Mayor and Burgesses meeting July 2 next to Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi. The meeting was the last for San Angelo, who is starting his new job as town administrator for Hanson, Mass. on Monday. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — The Board of Mayor and Burgesses held off on filling a vacant burgess seat Tuesday night due to an old provision in the borough Charter.

Former Burgess Ronald San Angelo, a Republican, resigned from the board last month to take the town administrator position in Hanson, Mass.

Mayor Robert Mezzo said Republican Town Committee Chairwoman Dorothy Hoff recommended Ed Fennell, a Republican who is currently running for burgess, to fill the seat.

“The recommendation is for an individual I have no objection considering. However, looking at the Charter, as attorney [Ned] Fitzpatrick did, it seems that there’s a requirement that that person be of the same ward as the vacating burgess,” Mezzo said.

Naugatuck is broken up into three wards or voting districts. San Angelo was from the third ward while Fitzpatrick said he believed that Fennel was from the first ward.

Officials were unclear Tuesday night exactly what ward Fennel lives in and Fitzpatrick said he would look more into the issue.

Burgess Robert Neth questioned the logic of making the replacement come from the same ward since that is not how burgesses are elected.

“Why is the ward an issue when we don’t even use the wards,” Neth asked. “We are elected at large.”

Mezzo said this issue is dictated by the Charter, which he and the burgesses have to follow.

“It seems like an archaic provision, but it is a provision we’ve had since the ’50s,” Mezzo said.

According to Fitzpatrick the provision was put into the charter in 1953.

“It does say it and it’s pretty clear,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick said that this provision could be looked into the next time the borough wants to change the Charter.

“I think it’s a terrific issue for the charter revision committee,” Fitzpatrick said.

1 COMMENT

  1. The Charter was changed to reflect that Burgesses would be elected at large. Clearly the legislative intent at the time was to make this the new process for putting Burgesses in place. During my time as Mayor we also reviewed this provision and legal council also believed that we could replace a Burgess who left with someone from any ward. The precedent was established when we put Don Carten on the Borough Board. To utilize this old outdated Charter provision does not make sense. The clear intent was to no longer add Burgesses by ward. Ed Fennel should be added to the board.