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Two Third District Republicans Eye Bolinsky’s Now Vacant Seat
By John Voket
A pair of District 3 Republicans have stepped up offering to replace State Representative-elect Mitch Bolinsky on the Legislative Council, according to Chairman Jeff Capeci. And while replacing the occasionally outspoken councilman may seem like a routine task, Mr Capeci said the process was somewhat challenging since he wanted to be sure officials remained within the scope of state Freedom of Information law.
The town charter stipulates that members of whichever party is posting the vacancy must agree to appoint an interim replacement to complete the term.
After speaking with an official at the state FOI office, Mr Capeci formed an ad-hoc Appointment Committee, which met in executive session November 20 to interview Dr Neil Chaudhary and Tom Long.
That session convened and adjourned in public without making any motions or taking any action. Mr Capeci said the full council would hear about the candidates at the next regular meeting on December 5, and Republicans would, at that time, vote to seat one or the other.
Mr Capeci said the Republicans, who make up a majority of council officials, could not simply convene a caucus to ratify a new colleague, because inviting the aspiring newcomers in for interviews would have constituted a violation of the FOI statutes.
And since gathering all GOP council representatives for interviews would have meant convening a public special meeting open to all council representatives, FOI spokesperson Tom Hennick suggested the formation of an ad-hoc committee, specifically so all GOP council members could meet in private to interview the contenders for Mr Bolinsky’s seat.
“It was a fine line we had to walk to be able to interview candidates without violating the FOI law,” Mr Capeci told The Bee ahead of the Tuesday meeting.
“Formerly, when we were looking to fill a vacancy, we had candidates who were known to many, if not all, of the council,” he added, “but in this case, we had two candidates who were not so well known to the Republican council members who have to make the decision.”
The council chairman said once it was clear following a November 14 recount that Mr Bolinsky had retained a victory for the 106th State Legislative District, and he had tendered an official resignation from the council, the party reached out to registered members in the Third District.
“And these two gentlemen came forward expressing an interest to serve,” Mr Capeci said. “I know Dr Chaudhary served previously on the Tick-Borne Disease Action Committee, and Mr Long has been serving on the [Booth Library Board of Trustees], so neither is without local government experience.”
He said both individuals forwarded their resumes for review to GOP council members, and it was the desire of GOP council representatives to hold a single meeting where both could be interviewed during the same session, albeit at different times.
In a brief letter of resignation issued to Town Clerk Debbie Aurelia November 16, Mr Bolinsky wrote in part: “I am excited and very enthusiastic to be going to Hartford to serve my home town and pledge to represent all residents with caring, consideration, integrity and a focus on our collective best interests. Time spent on the council and other volunteer boards, commissions and community service capacities has prepared me to well for this next challenge.”