With the 2015 election now in the books, ask any Shelter Island political leader about the most significant challenge facing the town and you’re likely to get the same answer: replacing Councilman Ed Brown, who has resigned his seat effective December 31.
That replacement will likely be appointed at the January 5 Town Board reorganizational meeting, Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty said Tuesday. The town is expected to advertise next week for a replacement and interviews with candidates seeking the position will begin after the Thanksgiving holiday.
The appointment would be for one year with a special election for the final year of Mr. Brown’s term planned for November 2016, Mr. Dougherty said.
“We are united in urging as many Shelter Islanders as possible to apply and have pledged to strive to appoint the most qualified person possible to work with us on the issues and challenges which the Town Board will face in 2016,” Mr. Dougherty said in an email Tuesday.
A Democrat, Mr. Dougherty said he’s sorry to see the Republican Mr. Brown step down, noting that his “hard work, advice and support” has always been valued.
Mr. Dougherty said of a replacement that personally he’d like to see a young person appointed to the job. More female representation would be nice, too.
“We want to see the next generation start phasing in and women are underrepresented,” Mr. Dougherty said of the five-member board, of which Councilwoman Chris Lewis is the only woman.
Whoever is appointed could provide a swing vote on controversial issues as the four board seats filled for 2016 are split evenly between two Democrats and two Republicans. That second Democrat is newly elected councilman Jim Colligan, who will join the board January 1.
Mr. Colligan, who Mr. Dougherty said will take part in the interviews beginning later this month, said he hopes a lot of well qualified people apply for Mr. Brown’s vacant post and that he wants whoever is appointed to be a team player willing to put in the hours the job requires.
Councilman Paul Shepherd, the top vote-getter in last week’s election, said he hopes Mr. Brown’s successor is someone with an open mind.
“We all want our children to be like ourselves,” he said of a successor to the retiring councilman. “I want somebody just like me, but not too much,” he joked.
Emory Breiner, a third candidate who lost a bid to join the Town Board last week, said on Election Day that it was too early for him to decide if he will ask to be considered to replace Mr. Brown.
With the election behind them and a replacement for Mr. Brown just two months away, Mr. Dougherty said Town Board members can soon focus their attention solely on the issues facing residents. He said reducing the tick infestation and protecting the aquifer will be priorities of his next term while continuing to pay close attention to taxes.
“We had to bite the bullet to spend significantly more on deer management and to take the relatively large step of paying for monthly tests of the quality of water,” Mr. Dougherty said. “Fortunately, my colleagues and I and our very able department heads were able to do this while keeping taxes in line.”