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Kassal Resigns From New Castle Town Board; Political Jockeying Begins

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New Castle Councilwoman Tara Kassal officially resigned her Town Board seat last Wednesday, as the town’s political players now focus on how and when her replacement is appointed.

Kassal, who announced on Sept. 20 that she would resign from the board to relocate to New England for family reasons, forwarded a letter on Sept. 28 to Supervisor Lisa Katz and Town Clerk Christina Papes stating that she was stepping down. Katz announced the resignation in her newsletter to the community late last Friday.

Attention now turns to who may succeed Kassal on the board. Katz said on Saturday that she and each of the three remaining councilmembers can recommend a community member to be appointed and she has also received overtures directly from a couple of residents. The supervisor said she is hopeful that the board can decide on a replacement at its next regular meeting on Oct. 18.

“I’d like to see the seat filled as soon as possible, but I think whoever we appoint is going to be somebody who really puts the interests of New Castle first and foremost, and would be someone who perhaps embodies a different demographic than members on the current Town Board,” Katz said.

However, Councilman Jeremy Saland said the board should wait until after the Nov. 8 special election that will decide who serves the remaining three years of the seat that is currently held by Councilman Christian Hildenbrand to make the appointment. Saland argued that if the Democratic candidate in that contest, Holly McCall, were to win the seat, then there would be a 2-2 split and at least three members would have to mutually agree to seat a replacement.

If Hildenbrand is victorious, then the Unite New Castle slate would maintain its board majority and they can make the appointment, he said.

This year’s special election was caused when Andrea Sanseverino Galan, who was part of the Unite New Castle ticket that swept the 2021 town election, announced two months before the election she would be moving out of town.

Despite having the opportunity to name a candidate for consideration, Saland said any potential appointee that he would bring before the board has no chance of being approved with the board’s current configuration.

“What she (Katz) wants to say is Jeremy has the opportunity to bring in people but it doesn’t matter who I bring in, and we’re not really considering someone from the Democratic Committee,” Saland said.

On Friday night, the town’s Democratic Committee sent a mass e-mail to residents stating that Katz’s “lack of transparency” prevented voters from choosing her replacement by concealing Kassal’s intention to leave town this summer for as long as she could so there would not be an election. thereby disenfranchising voters.

The deadline to trigger an election this year was the first week of August.

“As a result, we are calling on the Town Board to wait until the newly elected Town Board member is seated to make the appointment of Tara’s replacement,” the committee’s statement read. “As the current supervisor and the ‘Unite Team’ have run on the issue of transparency and listening to the will of the people, we would naturally expect they’d agree with this sentiment.”

But Katz responded that Kassal had no obligation to resign her seat until she closed on the sale of her house. Regardless, the process of appointing a replacement remains the same whenever the vacancy occurs, she said.

“I think they’re trying to find a reason for Holly to be the person to be voted (in) in this election, and because they have nothing to run on, because the town is thriving,” Katz said. “We have done a phenomenal job on that Town Board. They’re trying to manufacture anything that they can and this to me is a whole lot of political nonsense and posturing.”

Saland remained insistent last week that Katz knew Kassal was leaving the board sometime earlier this summer.

“It’s more than principle,” he said. “If you know you’re leaving, whether it’s Sept. 28, Oct. 15, Nov. 3 or Jan. 19, then resign, so people can make a decision.”

 

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