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Board appoints Colby mayor

JULIA BRENNAN PHOTO | Newly-appointed Mayor John J. Colby Jr. (right) signs oath book July 15, 2017 at Village Hall in Dering Harbor with village attorney, Joe Prokop (left) and Trustee Karen Kelsey looking on.

In a dizzying round of political musical chairs, John J. Colby Jr., the only one of the four members of the Village Board whose seat was not up for renewal in June’s tumultuous election, was appointed as Dering Harbor’s mayor Saturday, July 15 becoming the third person to hold that office in two weeks.

Mr. Colby replaces Kirk Ressler, who replaced Tim Hogue, who was halfway through his 13th consecutive two-year term when he resigned, along with the village clerk/bookkeeper, two weeks ago after his party’s three incumbent trustees (including Mr. Ressler) were beat by three write-in candidates in an election in which all but four of the village’s 81 voters participated.

“After the last election, we were left with the loss of the mayor, the loss of the village clerk and the loss of the bookkeeper and we needed to do something to keep the village operating because, believe me, from these last two weeks you can see that it doesn’t operate itself,” said Mr. Ressler in brief remarks before he announced his resignation at the monthly meeting in Village Hall on Saturday.

His appointment to the post by the departing village board was loudly protested by many in the community, when it occurred at a special meeting on July 1 called to determine what to do in response to the resignation of Mr. Hogue and the village clerk, Laura Hildreth.

Mr. Ressler said that prior to that meeting, “many scenarios were discussed.”

“The best one that was put forward was electing somebody who had been — or appointing, rather — somebody who had been serving a long time as a trustee and knew the village inside out and could do it.  And that person was John Colby,” Mr. Ressler said. The board was unable to appoint Mr. Colby because “there were just too many hiccups along the way.

“There was opposition from some people who now maybe have rethought that opposition and there were some conditions attached and people have rethought those conditions. So, anyway, at that time John said he would not do it.  So that was why I was kind of picked to do it because nobody else would,” he said.

Mr. Ressler, with Mr. Colby acting as interim village clerk, worked the past two weeks to keep the village functioning, answering phone calls, making tax deposits and paying bills.

“It was like trying to get an old airplane to fly with chewing gum and baling wire,” Mr. Ressler said. “But we have reached the point where things have stabilized, we’ve reached the point where some of the opposition we heard before has faded away and some conditions that were attached to John being mayor have been dropped and now we are in the position where the person that we wanted to be mayor all along could be mayor and therefore as of now I am resigning from my interim mayor position.”

Immediately, newly-minted trustee Ari J. Benacerraf made a motion that Mr. Colby be appointed mayor; it was seconded by newcomer Elizabeth Morgan and approved by them and the third new trustee, Karen Kelsey. The new board, which will have to appoint a trustee to fill Mr. Colby’s spot, set about the business of the village, approving minutes, and provisionally approving bills and an interim system to have the accounting firm that does the village’s annual audit handle bookkeeping until a new clerk is appointed.

In looking for a clerk, Ms. Kelsey said, “We need somebody who is familiar with all of the responsibilities of a village clerk, who is proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel and QuickBooks.”

“If anybody has any recommendations, please let us know,” she said.