By MIKE DONOGHUE
Islander Staff Writer
GRAND ISLE -- Former longtime Grand Isle Selectboard member Ron Bushway is returning to the governing board to fill an unexpected vacancy.
Bushway was a member of the Selectboard for 11 years, including 10 as chairman. He also has served his hometown in many other capacities, including Highway Commissioner, Building Facilities Manager, Town Health Officer and Fire Warden. He said his experiences would allow him to hit the ground running.
The other applicants seeking the appointment were: Josie Leavitt, who was active in Charlotte before moving to Grand Isle in 2018 and Cooper Shaw, who moved away after graduating from Castleton University in 2016, but returned to town recently.
The candidates had to file letters of interest by Monday afternoon and were expected to attend a special meeting that evening to answer questions from the board and from the public both attending in person or by Zoom. Each candidate was expected to answer every question.
The candidate interviews were conducted in open session and the votes were also in public session. Selectboard member Eric Godin said filling the seat was like an election and the public deserved to know where each candidate stands on issues. Chairman Jeff Parizo said he agreed with transparency and didn’t want the town criticized for holding secret meetings to fill an important post.
After the public interviews Leavitt was nominated to fill the slot, but the board deadlocked 2-2.
Another motion was made to appoint Bushway and it passed 3-1.
Vice Chair AnnaMarie DeMars swore in Bushway after his selection and he joined the rest of the board at the conference table for the rest of the meeting.
Parizo and other board members thanked the three candidates for applying and urged them all to remain active in the town no matter which one was selected. He said the town is always looking for people to serve and noted there has been a longtime vacancy on the planning commission.
Bushway replaces Diane Cota who quit abruptly when she walked out of a July 19 meeting. As she left Cota called her fellow board members liars and said she was done with the "nonsense" and stated "I can't stand working with them." She later submitted a formal letter.
The posting for the board vacancy noted Grand Isle was looking for somebody to help move the town forward and meet the needs of all town residents.