Wisler Fills Council Vacancy

by LonSeidman

Longtime local volunteer Rachel Wisler was accepted as the newest member of the Wolcott Town Council Tuesday evening. Wisler has been an active member in the Junior Women’s Club and also runs a business in town with her husband, Rene. She will represent the 2nd District after the seat became vacant when Randy Petroniro suddenly resigned a few weeks ago. Because Petroniro was a Republican, the current Charter suggests he should be replaced by a Republican even though he ran as a unnafiliated candidate last November. Wisler was also the next-higher vote getter in that race. The new charter – which takes effect on January 1st – will have unaffiliated office holders replaced by the next highest vote getter eligible should a vacancy occur.

After the Council unanimously voted to accept her appointment, Chairman Michael Santagotta was eager to have her seated so she could begin to get up to speed with her new colleagues. “We’ll just do this right now rather than the customary letters,” he said before giving the oath of office. After applause and congratulatories greeted her acceptance, Santagotta invited her to take a seat before the Council moved into an executive session. “You can have a seat with whomever you feel most comfortable” referring to the two sides of the dias. “How about this side- there will be a Republican on either end,” replied Wisler, pulling up a chair next to Democrat Chuck Marsela.

For many years, Democrats have sat to the right of the Chairman, and unaffiliated and Republican Councilmen to the left. Past Chairman have often assigned the seating of Councilmen for various political reasons. Although it doesn’t appear that Santagotta had any preference where anyone sat, this Council has still assumed their traditional positions. Three Democrats sat to his right, and the four unaffiliated councilmen and sole Republican sat to his left. Even with Council clerk Beth Gaudiosi sitting on the Democratic side of the table, the Council table appeared asymmetrical. (C’mon.. who lined these guys up for a photo?) Until Tuesday, Dave Valletta was the only elected Republican endorsed by the party. He sits on the far end of the table opposite Marsella. Wisler’s addition and seating preference may finally give a balance to the elected body.

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