Longtime Town Council member steps down

Douglas B. Merriman

PROSPECT — Douglas Merriman has spent basically half his life in public service — a run that came to an end last week.

Merriman, 84, resigned from the Town Council Sept. 3 due to health issues, after holding a seat on the council for more than three decades.

“He will be missed by all,” Mayor Robert Chatfield said.

Merriman, a Republican, served on the council for 34 consecutive years, including several terms as chairman. He also served on the Region 16 Board of Education, which oversees public schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, from 1977 to 1981.

Reflecting on his decades of public service, Merriman pointed to his time on the school board as the most important. It was a tumultuous time for the board and region.

“The region was in turmoil and the leadership was not good to say the least, and we fixed that,” said Merriman, adding the board at the time made some very positive changes that persist to this day.

Merriman followed in the political footsteps of his parents. His mother served on the council in the early 1970s and his father was the head of the Republican Party in town.

Merriman was on the Republican ticket when Chatfield, a fellow Republican, first ran for mayor in 1977. Chatfield, who has been mayor ever since, said he and Merriman have become very good friends and have confided a lot in each other over the years.

Chatfield said Merriman brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to the council, along with his dry sense of humor and penchant for making the motion to adjourn meetings.

Town Council Chairman Jeffrey Slapikas, who sat next to Merriman for eight years before becoming chairman in 2017, said he learned a lot from him over the years. He described Merriman as bipartisan and a gentleman, who was always there to help.

“He’s the consummate mayor, if you would say,” Slapikas said.

The council appointed Republican Stephanie Lusas-Kolodziej to fill Merriman’s seat on the council. Lusas-Kolodziej will also take Merriman’s spot on the ballot in November, Chatfield said.

Lusas-Kolodziej served as chairman of the Board of Assessment Appeals, before resigning to accept the appointment to the council.