By Kate Anslinger
In a joint meeting Monday evening, the Town Council and School Committee were expected to chose a candidate to fill a vacancy on the School Committee, but decided to hold off until the Dec. 19 meeting.
The vacancy comes after the resignation of School Committee member Laura Callis, who is moving out of Winthrop. Her term expires in 2020 and an election to fill the seat will be in November 2019.
Six candidates have applied for the position, which will go into effect as soon as the final decision is made. The candidates include past committee member, Gus Martucci, Ronald Vitale Jr., Suzanne Swope, Gary Schoales, Shauna Hodge-Barnett and recent ballot candidate, John Lyons.
“I would like to have an opportunity to talk to these candidates beforehand to get a feeling about where they can lead the school committee down the road,” said Town Council Vice President, Phil Boncore, who is open to meeting with each and every candidate.
The candidate selection was scheduled to take place during the meeting, however, after much discussion, a motion was passed to postpose the vote until the next Town Council meeting scheduled for Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Harvey Hearing Room in Town Hall. This too will be a joint public meeting with the School Committee and Town Council.
“I believe it’s the obligation of the School Committee and the Town Council to make connections with the candidates over the next couple of weeks, so we can make a legitimate decision,” said Town Council President Russ Sanford. “This allows us to review the commitment, character, and references of each candidate in order to make an honest judgment.”
According to the town attorney, the School Committee falls under section 5-1 of the Town Charter, which sets out the process to fill, temporarily, the vacant elected seat. Boncore disagreed, and felt that section 9-14 of the Town Charter should take precedence over section 5-1 due to the fact that it was written later. Section 9-14 states that when a vacancy occurs there should be no less than 14 days notice, however; the town attorney believed that section 9-14 did not apply to this situation, as it is a vacancy on an elected board.
Several of the School Committee members disagreed with the motion to postpone the voting date.
“We have important issues coming up over the next few weeks, and I feel that it would be best to fill this slot tonight,” said School Committee member Valentino Capobianco.