When Carolyn Richmond, a member of the Representative Town Meeting's District 1, resigned last December, it was up to the remaining members in that district to select a replacement.
But what usually is a pro forma exercise sparked debate when District 1's members deadlocked -- twice -- over appointing retired Navy Commander Joseph "Jay" Lipp to fill the vacancy. When the issue took longer than the town charter-mandated 30-day deadline, the vacancy was then taken up by the entire RTM.
Lipp was eventually elected by a vote of 24-20, and sworn in at Monday's RTM session by Town Clerk Betsy Browne.
After Lipp, now the head of the science department at Norwalk High School, was nominated and seconded, Kevin Hoffkins, D-7, rose and submitted the name of Dorene Herron for consideration. Herron is a former PTA president at Sherman School,
Hoffkins said Herron's attendance at many different town government meetings shows her commitment, and her nomination was supported by Dana Kery, R-8.
Both Lipp and Herron are Republicans.
"She shows up with her homework done," said Marc Patten, D-7. "She understands what's going on."
But Ellen Jacob, R-9, said the town needs a candidate "who doesn't have just one point of view," and she said Lipp was that person.
She said he's been a union employee, an employer and an engineer. "I think Jay is a dream candidate," she said.