With the Putnam Valley Town Board out of session for 2011, opinions and suggestions are swirling around what the new board should do come the beginning of January when it must decide whether or not to fill its soon-to-be vacant seat. Some concern a coin-flip, while others call for the appointment of an independent body that will serve until a special election in November 2012.
Because the Nov. 8 election produced a tie between current town board members Eugene Yetter, Jr. and Robert Cinque, the board will be left with an open seat unless it appoints someone during its first meeting—a situation much similar to the Carmel Town Board, which lost Anthony DiCarlo after he won the District 9 county legislator seat for 2011. During the board’s Dec. 14 meeting, Town Supervisor Robert Tendy said he hoped the board would be able to appoint someone in 2012.
“Rather than disregard the voters’ wishes, I will be asking the town board to choose one of the two,” Tendy said. “Currently, either one is fine with me.”
Tendy said he hoped that the board vote with the best applicant in mind, and not vote according to their specific party allegiances. Councilwoman Jackie Annabi and Tendy are both Republicans, while outright-winner Steve Mackay will be joining fellow Democrat Wendy Whetsel next year. If the board cannot come to a single consensus, Tendy even suggested a coin-flip between Yetter and Cinque to reflect the will of the people.“I understand there will be two Democrats and two Republicans deciding, but I’m going to ask them to put aside party issues,” Tendy said. “We’ll be discussing the relative merits of both candidates—they both have a lot of merits—but hopefully we’ll be able to pick one of the two.”
District 2 Legislator Sam Oliverio, who was in attendance to issue a legislative update, offered his advice concerning quagmire. Knowing the board will most likely not appointment someone due to their ideologies, Oliverio suggested Putnam Valley follow the county’s appointment of Paul Eldridge—someone to fill the shoes of a board member who vows not to vote during a special in November.
“Get an individual that will sign a statement that they will not run come November that has prior experience, you could put them on the board,” Oliverio said. “That way it does keep the politics out of it, it worked really well for the county.”
Oliverio said the individual would have no other interests to serve the town short-term and would preferably be a former town board member whose experience would serve the 11-month term well. Though he would rather have the spot filled, Tendy did not want to limit anybody from potentially running in November. Since it would be a special election anyone, whether he or she ran in 2011 or not, could run if an appointment is not made.
“I don’t think it’s fair to bind somebody to not run—if somebody wants to run, they should be able to run,” Tendy said. “If somebody comes along and says ‘I won’t vote’ then we might consider it, but since we have over 2,000 voters who logged in a vote, I don’t want to disregard their votes and I think we should take what they have to say into account the best way possible.”
The Putnam Valley voting debacle began on Nov. 8. While at first it seemed the Cinque edged out Yetter by a slim three-vote margin, the Putnam County Board of Election tallied a tie after counting absentee ballots on Nov. 13. Yetter than ordered a recount from the New York State Supreme Supreme Court, which subsequently ended in yet another tie.
“We certainly don’t want to go through the year with just a four-person board,” Tendy said. “First of all, it’s not for the benefit of the town because all the districts need their representatives, it’s a lot of work to be on the board and if you have one man or one woman short, it’s not in the best interest of the town.”