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Republican Steve Carroll and Democrat Patti Flynn-Harris will be appointed as new members of the Town Council on Tuesday night after garnering nominations from their respective political parties.
Carroll, who served on the Town Council previously from 2003-2005, will replace Republican Tim White in the Fourth District. White resigned from the Council in October to take a position with a non-profit organization operating in Haiti. Flynn-Harris, a long serving democrat on the Planning and Zoning Commission, replaces at-large Councilor Justin Adinolfi, who stepped aside last month after accepting a new job that required extensive travel. It is expected that the two appointments will be moved up to the start of the meeting, both Carroll and Flynn-Harris accepted unanimously by the other seven Councilors, and sworn in by the Town Clerk.
Republicans seemingly had a difficult task in finding a replacement for White, who had served the Fourth District for seven years. Carroll served one term on the council five years ago as an at-large candidate. This will be his first district representation.
"I am excited to be coming back, very much so," Carroll said. "This was certainly unexpected. I had no idea an opening was coming up. When I heard Tim was leaving, I was pretty surprised."
Carroll said he was approached about re-joining the Council soon after White resigned, but he had to take time to think about it. After losing the election in 2005, Carroll took over control of the Republican Town Committee as it's chairman. He also worked with the nominating committee and understood the process of appointing a replacement to a board like the Town Council. When Carroll served last, there was a five to four Republican majority, and, now he will be part of a super majority of seven Republicans to just two democrats. This is the largest majority allowed by Cheshire's Town Charter.
"This will be a different experience than the first time," Carroll admitted. "I always enjoyed serving on the Town Council and I'm looking forward to getting back to making a contribution in town."
Flynn-Harris, who served 11 years with the Planning and Zoning Commission, said she was excited to be joining the Town Council. She explained that she has been asked to run for the Council before, but the timing never felt right. She was up for re-election on the PZC in November and she felt it was a good opportunity to continue to serve the Town. She said there was no "overwhelming issue" that made her want to join the Council, but understood there was a lot of work ahead.
"I know there will be a learning curve on some issues. I'm just a citizen like everyone else," she explained. "I will look at every single issue from as many sides as possible before making a decision. I'll give it my best shot."
Republican Town Committee Chairman Adam Grippo said Carroll's experience was pivotal in his nomination and return to the Council.
"He was the best person to hit the ground running and fill that spot," Grippo said. "He has the experience and that's why he was chosen. He has a lot of experience in government and I think that will be beneficial to the Fourth District."
Grippo would not comment on if Carroll would be expected to run again for the seat in 2011. However, Carroll said when he was in that position, he would have expected a person to seek re-election, so he is operating under the assumption that he will run again in November, but admitted it was "contingent on being nominated again."
Democratic Town Committee Chairman Ernest DiPietro said Flynn-Harris was unanimously endorsed by the DTC and she was a “great candidate” for the seat. She did an "excellent job" with the PZC, DiPietro explained, adding that she has "a lot of experience."
"I know she will be fair and open to all parties. She is the right type of person and has the right personality to serve on the Town Council," he said. "Everyone felt she demonstrated an ability to lead on a nonpartisan basis and she is very deserving of this. I know she will do what is best for Cheshire, not what's best for a Democrat or Republican."
Carroll said that the "budget is the biggest nut" for the next year, and stated that he is resigned to the fact that state finances are "on the decline." He commented that less state revenue, pension liabilities, and infrastructure issues all put strain on an already tight budget.
"There will be a lot of work to do," Carroll said. "But there are a lot of smart individuals on the Council."
Carroll is expected to take over White's Council assignments. If that holds true, Carroll will serve on the audit and solid waste committees, and act as liaison between the Town Council and the Energy Commission and Retirement Board. Similarly, if Flynn-Harris assumes Adinolfi's previous responsibilities, she will serve on the Solid Waste, Ordinance Review and Planning committees while also acting as liaison to the Inland Wetlands Commission and Youth Services Committee.