SARANAC LAKE - Jim Murnane will rejoin the Harrietstown town board.
The local hotelier and former town councilman was appointed Thursday to fill the seat left vacant by Bob Bevilacqua's election as town supervisor last month.
Murnane is the owner and general manager of the Best Western Mountain Lake Inn in Saranac Lake. A Republican, he was elected in 2009 to serve the remaining two years of Wendell "Dean" Naegele's term. Murnane opted not to seek re-election in 2011, citing time constraints and the need to spend more time with his family.
Bob Bevilacqua presides over Thursday’s Harrietstown town board meeting, his first as supervisor.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
Filling the vacant seat was one of the first items on the town board's agenda Thursday night, which was Bevilacqua's first meeting as town supervisor.
The town had received letters of interest from three other people interested in the position: former councilman Wayne Voudren, local attorney Stephen Buzzell and former Franklin County Legislator Gerald Gillmett.
"I'd like to see someone fill this seat who has some experience and is familiar with what's going on here," Bevilacqua told the board. "For that reason I'd like to put forward the name of Jim Murnane as a possible candidate to be appointed for the next year. He's very current. He's only been off the board for a year, so I think he'd be a good choice."
Councilman Ron Keough agreed that experience was important and said he was grateful that four people had stepped forward to express their interest. He said Buzzell has a solid resume but no prior town board experience. Keough said Voudren served "very, very well" on the board in the past and Gillmett has been "a longtime committed individual for the town.
"But for the year that's here and the transition and all we've gone through, I think we need to go with somebody who's familiar, who knows how the town operates," Keough said.
Councilman Barry DeFuria said sarcastically that he wants a "hard-core Democrat, who pounds his fists on the table" to get the job.
Councilwoman Nichole Meyette said she knows Murnane personally but isn't acquainted with the other three interested candidates. She said she'd support whatever decision the board would make.
The vote to appoint Murnane to the position was unanimous.
Murnane told the Enterprise this morning that time constraints are still a factor for him, however, "I thought the town kind of had a need with the transition that's recently taken place.
"It would be beneficial for the town council to have somebody who had a little experience and some background there," Murnane said. "I'm anxious to assist Bob in any way I can. I'm very confident in his leadership and want to be part of the success of the town."
Murnane supported Bevilacqua in his campaign for town supervisor against Democrat Tom Catillaz. He wrote a letter to the editor of the Enterprise endorsing Bevilacqua and contributed a combined $600 to his campaign, personally and through his business.
The remaining two years of the town board seat Bevilacqua was elected to in November 2011 will be on the ballot this fall, along with the supervisor's seat and two other council positions. Murnane said he hasn't decided if he'll run for office then.
Earlier in the meeting, Bevilacqua thanked DeFuria for serving as acting supervisor for the past eight months, following Larry Miller's resignation in the spring.
"Barry's done a very good job, and he deserves our thanks," Bevilacqua said
The board approved a motion of recognition and thanks for DeFuria, at Keough's request. Keough noted that DeFuria took on the additional work without an increase in his stipend as deputy supervisor, allowing the supervisor's salary for the rest of the year to go back into the town.
In other business Thursday, the board hired Tracy Mauler as the town's accountant, a position the board has been looking to fill for nearly two years.
DeFuria abstained from the vote because Mauler is his daughter.
Town officials received nine applications for the position, and three of the candidates were cleared by Franklin County Civil Service. One of the applicants declined an interview, and another withdrew their application.
Mauler's appointment is for a probationary six-month term. She'll have to pass a civil service test for accountant before she can be appointed permanently.
Her salary will be $35,105 plus benefits.