FAIRFIELD -- James Walsh made the transition Wednesday from moderator of the Representative Town Meeting to the newest member of the Board of Selectmen.

Walsh, a Republican, was named to fill the vacancy on the three-person board created by the death of Selectman Ralph Bowley, a fellow Republican, in April. Both the recommendation that Walsh fill the vacancy by the Republican Town Committee, and Wednesday's appointment by First Selectman Kenneth Flatto and Selectman Sherri Steeneck, both Democrats, were unanimous.

Walsh will serve the remainder of Bowley's term until the municipal election in the fall of 2011.

"It's kind of a bittersweet day," Walsh said, prior to taking the oath of office from Town Clerk Betsy Browne. "The fact that I'm replacing a friend of mine ... Ralph is going to be a tough guy to replace. He was an unbelievable man, he was an unbelievable friend. He loved this community."

Walsh said he talked with Bowley shortly before his death from cancer, and Bowley had asked Walsh to be his replacement.

"It was such an honor for him to ask me," Walsh said, adding that every day he is on the board he will ask himself what Bowley would have done and use that as a guide for his actions.

He will, he said, continue in Bowley's footsteps by being non-partisan and doing "what is best for Fairfield. That's what Ralph always did."

Bowley "was a tremendous member of the community and the Board of Selectmen," Browne said. "I truly believe Jim will do a wonderful job on this board. I think it's going to be a great team."

Steeneck, who was appointed to the board to fill a vacancy after the death of Selectman Denise Dougiello to cancer, said Walsh has done a great job on the RTM. "I know he will make Ralph proud," she said.