MONROE, CT — A decision by the Town Council to oppose Democrat, Chrissy Fensore Martinez’s appointment to an open Board of Education seat sparked intense debate, before a legal opinion by Town Attorney Frank Lieto enabled the council to reverse its decision Monday night.
At the Oct. 11 Town Council meeting, Chairman Jonathan Formichella expressed a reluctance to support the nomination of Martinez to fill the vacancy left by Nick Kapoor, because Martinez’s employer, Aspire Living and Learning, is a vendor for the Monroe Board of Education.
However, on Monday night, Councilman Jason Maur said Lieto’s legal opinion was there is no conflict of interest, according to the Town Charter, so long as procedures are followed.
If appointed, Martinez agreed to write a letter to the Board of Ethics and the town clerk, notifying them of potential conflicts and agreeing to recuse herself from any vote where a conflict of interest is found.
Maur had also questioned the validity of the Council’s narrow 4-3 vote against Martinez’s appointment on Oct. 11, because it was not a roll call vote.
Formichella said he believes full disclosure is important, adding he was glad Martinez agreed to write the letter. The chairman agreed to call for a vote to amend Monday night’s agenda to vote on Martinez’s appointment and the motion passed unanimously.
Formichella motioned to approve Martinez’s appointment to the term ending November 27, 2023 and Vice Chairman Enid Lipeles seconded it. Then the council approved the appointment by a vote of 8-0.
Town Council members and some members of the Monroe Democratic Town Committee, who sat in the chambers, clapped. Then there was a standing ovation when First Selectman Ken Kellogg swore Martinez in.
“Mr. Chairman, just for the record, I was clapping. I was,” said Councilman Kevin Reid, who participated in the meeting remotely.
During the public comments portion of the meeting, Jennifer Aguilar, a Democrat who previously served on the Town Council, thanked the council and particularly Maur for his hard work in having Martinez reintroduced to the council for the vote. She also thanked Lieto for his legal counsel.
“I think it was the right thing to do,” Aguilar said.
Later that night, Martinez said, “I want to thank the Town Council for their confidence in my knowledge and skills. I am looking forward to serving the students in our community and feel lucky to be able to join our Board of Education in the important work that they are doing.”
The Town Council unanimously approved other appointments Monday night, including:
James Weinberg (R) to the Board of Police Commissioners for a term ending October 13, 2025.
Weinberg volunteered for the town in several capacities over the years, including as a member of the Board of Education, Board of Ethics, Planning and Zoning Commission and Inland Wetlands Commission, as well as a constable.
He fills a vacancy left by the expired term of longtime police commissioner, Ronald Villani.
Elaine Miller (R) to the Library Board of Trustees for a term ending November 30, 2026.
Miller, a resident of 35 years, is a mother of five who has enjoyed using Monroe’s public library and wants to give back by serving the board. She has worked as a hospital pharmacy manager, was vice president of a condominium association, and has served on several committees for the Monroe public school system.
Miller’s appointment fills a vacancy left by the resignation of Linda Fracassini.
Victor Yanosy (R) of 107 Cutlers Farm Road to the position of Constable for a term ending November 27, 2023. He is filling the position of constable left by James Weinberg.
The nomination from the Monroe Republican Town Committee says, “Victor had previously been Constable for Monroe for 35 years and is looking forward to coming back and serving the town and its residents.”
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