Meeting delayed to make way for Bateson transition
FAIRFIELD — The Board of Selectmen meeting slated for Wednesday, June 6, may be postponed in order to make for a smooth transition back onto the board for Edward Bateson.
A state Supreme Court opinion issued last week reversed a Superior Court ruling that ordered a special election for the board and voided the results of the special election. That election saw Democrat Kevin Kiley best Bateson, a Republican. Bateson was appointed to the board in December 2016 to fill the vacancy that occurred when Republican Selectman Laurie McArdle resigned one year into a four-year term.
A group of Democrats, however, gathered the required number of petition signatures to force a special election. They cited state statute as the basis for the petition drive. However, Bateson and fellow Republican Selectman Chris Tymniak refused to set a date, saying the town charter only allows a special election to the Board of Selectmen when an appointment is not made within 30 days.
The Democrats took the issue to court, and Judge Barbara Bellis issued a writ of mandamus, ordering the special election be held June 6, 2017. Bateson and Tymniak appealed the decision, which ended up before the state Supreme Court.
First Selectman Mike Tetreau said it is his understanding that the official release date of the Supreme Court decision was Tuesday, May 29, and there is a 10-day automatic stay in place. Asked if they would file a motion to reconsider, Democratic Town Committee Chairman Steve Sheinberg, one of the plaintiffs, said on May 24, “We respect the decision of the court.”
“There’s no memo anywhere that says ‘these are the steps,’ ” Tetreau said, adding he has talked with both Tymniak and Republican Town Committee Chairman James Millington.
If they postpone, Tetreau said, Bateson’s first meeting would be after the stay has expired, and eliminate any questions of whether votes taken were valid. “Everyone seems to be comfortable with that approach,” Tetreau said. The exact date has not yet been determined.
Town Attorney Stanton Lesser said he doesn’t believe Bateson would have to be sworn in again, but Tetreau said it can’t hurt, since it can be done very quickly. “It’s just 30 seconds,” Tetreau said. “You don’t want someone challenging a Board of Selectmen vote because Ed wasn’t sworn in again.”