CHARLESTOWN — The Town Council on Monday chose George Tremblay, a former council vice president until 2016, to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation last month of Councilor Steven Williams.
Tremblay’s selection — allowed by the Town Charter in instances when there is less than a year until the next election — came despite vocal campaigning by supporters of Robert Malin, a Democrat.
Malin received the next-highest number of votes after Williams in the 2016 election.
John Hamilton, chairman of the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee, said the council should place a question on the November ballot asking voters to change the charter to allow council vacancies to be filled by the next-highest vote getter.
“This approach takes into consideration voters’ actual wishes,” he said, speaking on behalf of the committee. “It is a good government approach.” Hamilton said that Malin, who received 1,986 votes in 2016, should get the appointment.
“He has worked tirelessly on many issues affecting our town,” Hamilton said. “He is an environmentalist, he is qualified and ready to serve enthusiastically.”
Council members said they went with Tremblay in large part because of his prior experience on the council. Tremblay was elected to the council in 2012 on the endorsement of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance, the town’s dominant political faction. He did not run for re-election in 2016.
Tremblay’s selection means that all five members will again be associated with the CCA, which moved to further solidify its hold on town operations recently by reducing the size of the Parks and Recreation Commission.
Council member Bonnie Van Slyke said, “He has worked tirelessly for the citizens of Charlestown, and his list of contributions is long. He will be able to step into the position without missing a beat.”
Van Slyke said she did a “random sampling” of 16 towns to see how they filled similar vacancies.
“It’s pretty evenly divided as to what towns do,” she said. Seven appoint the next-highest vote getter regardless of the time remaining in a term. Six operate under a discretionary procedure similar to Charlestown’s, while three would hold an election if the remaining term is greater than six months, she said.
Also Monday the council appointed Charlestown Police Lt. Michael Paliotta to be the town’s next new chief of police after the March 1 retirement of current Chief Jeffrey Allen. The council made the decision in executive session.
“We’re very pleased to have him step in as the next chief,” Council President Virginia Lee said.
Allen, who swore in a new full-time officer, Paul Gentile, on Monday, said it had been a pleasure to work in town.
“The last three councils have been awesome, and very supportive of my administration as have the town administrator and the whole town,” Allen said. “I really thank everybody.”