Jim Walsh sworn in to the Board of Selectmen; shuffle in ranks of the RTM

Hours after resigning as moderator of the Representative Town Meeting, James Walsh was sworn in Wednesday as the third member of the Board of Selectman.

The transition capped a bustling 48-hour period for Walsh, a Republican who lives in the town's first district. He started the day presiding over the tail-end of the RTM's two-night annual budget meeting, which crept into the early hours of Wednesday morning.

By day's end, he'd filled the Board of Selectmen spot left vacant when Ralph Bowley -- who was also a Republican -- died of cancer on April 10. The spot is up for reelection in November 2011.

The move will cause some shuffling in the RTM. On Wednesday, Jamie Millington, R-9, the RTM majority leader, said that Jeffrey Steele, R-2, the deputy majority leader, will likely fill Walsh's spot as RTM moderator. Ed Bateson, R-3, would likely fill Steele's spot as deputy majority leader and Michael Herley looks primed to fill Walsh's spot in district one of the RTM.

At its monthly meeting early Tuesday night, the Republican Town Committee unanimously recommended Walsh to fill Bowley's spot. At Wednesday's Board of Selectmen meeting, First Selectman Ken Flatto and Selectman Sherri Steeneck, both Democrats -- who comprise the rest of the board -- approved that nod and voted Walsh onto their board.

Walsh said that Bowley, shortly before dying, asked him to fill the vacant spot on the board. Walsh called actually doing so a "bittersweet" experience.

"The fact is that I'm replacing a friend of mine who was an unbelievable man," he said, prior to taking the oath. "I'll try to carry on in his tradition, and think always [while I'm on the board] of what he would have done."

Asked what he thought the biggest challenge of his new role would be, Walsh getting involved with town employees in personnel matters. As a 12-year member of the RTM, he said he's well schooled in the issues facing the town, especially relating to construction of the town's third train station.

He said also that as the sole Republican on the board, he would have to be the "loyal opposition" to Flatto and Steeneck at times. "But this board has worked very independently," he added. "I had a long conversation with Flatto last week, and he said he's greatly enjoyed working with Bowley, and that he hopes that will continue with me."