I attended the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting to observe the voting for leadership.
I arrived early enough to have a short discussion with Billy Wilson about the upcoming Star Wars movie, and nodded hello to P&Z member Joyce Rossiter as she arrived.
Shortly after Joyce arrived, P&Z members Dan Russo and Richard Pelletier arrived. They huddled with Rossiter on the raised dais and began talking about the upcoming vote to determine who would become chair of the commission.
As much as I would, at times, like to sink into the shadows and observe others without being observed, it's a difficult thing to do when you are 6'1" and 250 pounds with white hair in a brightly lit room.
Still, this evening I was invisible to Russo and Pelletier, who stood with their backs to me. They began speaking about their colleague, Stephen Devoto.
Joyce Rossiter: He’s (Devoto) only got two more years.
Richard Pelletier: I think he’ll run again.
Joyce Rossiter: Ed didn’t run again (referring to me in a voice loud enough to signal to her colleagues that I was within hearing distance - though they seemed not to notice).
Richard Pelletier: Thank god.
Dan Russo: I think he (Devoto) will run until he gets more power. He wants to leave his mark on Middletown.
Richard Pelletier: He wanted to be chair before but we worked around it, last time.
Joyce Rossiter:(to Russo) I don’t know why you’d want to do it with everything you’ve been through.
Dan Russo: I’m dealing with it pretty well. I don’t think it’s affected me significantly.
In fact, sources indicate that several of Russo's colleagues on the P&Z have expressed significant concerns about his ability to conduct a proper meeting. Russo, who suffered a stroke, and recovered, has been recorded making digressive and rambling remarks during meetings, and has raised enough of a bipartisan concern that, before the election, there was some talk about whether he should run.
In the election, Russo received more votes than any other P&Z candidate.
When the meeting began, it was run by Town Planner Michiel Wackers so that the nominations for chair, vice-chair and secretary could be made.
Wackers asked for nominations.
Russo spoke first.
"After the swearing in ceremony, Democratic commissioners gathered to offer three names for consideration by our Republican colleagues," Russo said. He then named the candidates: Stephen Devoto, Richard Pelletier and himself.
Russo also indicated that they would offer Republican Molly Salafia's name as vice-chair, and Joyce Rossiter as Secretary.
Wackers indicated that each name would be voted on separately, and that five votes would be needed to elect a chair.
In these tallies, Pelletier received one votes, Russo three and Devoto three. None had sufficient votes to be named chair.
Pelletier then offered Russo's name in nomination again. When the vote was called, five hands rose, some more slowly than others. Russo received six votes from Salafia, Pelletier, Rossiter, Synkowicz, Clark and Russo voted for himself as well.
After going from only two votes in support, to six, Russo was declared the commissioner, and he conducted the votes for vice-chair and secretary, in which Salafia and Rossiter were selected unanimously.