Council appoints Greene to fill vacancy; Easthom won’t seek reelection
The Town Council went with experience Wednesday, appointing former two-term council member Sally Greene to fill the vacancy created when Penny Rich resigned to take a seat on the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
The council approved the appointment on a 7-1vote.
Amy Ryan was the only other applicant among the 11 to receive a vote.
In an interview, Greene, who will be sworn in Jan, 28, said she is ready to go to work, noting that budget season is just around the corner.
“The council has not raised taxes for four years in a row, so a big discussion will be whether the no tax increase can continue or what costs that will impose or whether we do have to raise taxes and what are our priorities.”
Because of a work change, Greene did not seek reelection in 2011 to the council seat she first won in 2003. She said she will be a candidate in the upcoming municipal election.
Green’s appointment probably surprised few of the 75 or more people attending Wednesday’s meeting.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and members of council had said on numerous occasions that experience would weigh heavily in their decisions.
Greene was the only applicant in the pool with council experience.
There was one surprise, however.
Councilwoman Laurin Easthom stunned the crowd with an announcement that she will not seek reelection in November.
“I just want to let folks know, this may be a little premature, but I don’t think it is, that I won’t be running,” Easthom said. “I do believe in fresh voices and I think we have excellent candidates coming in this election and I want to assure them that they won’t at least have one incumbent to worry about.”
Easthom was also the only council member to explain her vote in favor of Greene.
“The community has had the confidence in Sally the last two elections prior and we have also recent community support in an onslaught of email for her,” Easthom said. “In my opinion she is the most qualified, has the most experience and that’s what this council needs at this time.”
In recent weeks, much of the discussion about filling the seat has centered on whether to choose a newcomer or someone with council experience.
Easthom urged applicants and others to run for election to the council if they are dissatisfied with the council’s appointment.
“If there is anyone out there who doesn’t like our council choice tonight, I’m sure that most people do, but if they don’t, they have a chance to vote for their candidate if they run in the fall or they can run themselves.”
One applicant, Maria Palmer, said in an interview that she plans to do just that.
Palmer said she was disappointed by the council’s decision. She said she believes council members had their minds made up long before Wednesday night.
“I think it’s disingenuous of them to accept all of the candidates and act like there was going to be a big discussion,” Palmer said.
In addition to Greene, Palmer and Ryan, Gary Kahn, Loren D. Hintz, Paul Neebe, Aaron Shah, Carl Schuler, Jennifer Marsh, Bjorn Pedersen, David Jackson applied to fill the vacancy.