By TAYLOR HARTZ
Town Chairman Mike Riccio appointed Councilors Cheryl Lounsbury and Tom Lombardi to Chair the Apple Harvest Festival Committee, replacing Councilor Chris Palmieri, who has chaired the committee for several years.
The committee was co-chaired for two years by Palmieri and Lombardi, following Palmieri’s eight-year chairmanship.
Palmieri, a Democrat, said that the committee was set up to ensure a bipartisan board for the Apple Harvest Festival and that he was disappointed in the selection of two Republican chairs.
“One of the things we’ve really strived for is to keep politics out of the festival,” said Palmieri, “and essentially it became political on Monday evening.”
At the Nov. 23 meeting, Riccio announced the appointment of Lombardi and Lounsbury, both Republicans, and Palmieri spoke about his disappointment in the decision.
“I have never before experienced such an undeserving insult,” said Palmieri.
The councilor pointed out that every committee and subcommittee was appointed representatives from both sides of the aisle.
Riccio responded by reminding Palmieri that he had asked him to collaborate with Republican Ed Pocock, appointing both to the Barn Committee and LEAF Program this term.
“I have personally given my all to this festival,” said Palmieri of the Apple Harvest appointment.
Palmieri originated the committee with Lounsbury when the town took over the festival from the Chamber of Commerce; his removal meant a decrease in committee members from seven to six.
“You’ve been at the helm for many years on this, and it’s time to share,” said Riccio, who said a change in the appointments would allow for new and different ideas.
Democrat Dawn Miceli asked if the appointment could be put to a vote amongst individual council members. Riccio responded that the appointment was the Chairman’s decision.
“Just because you have the power to make a change doesn’t mean the change is the right thing to do,” said Palmieri, who tried to continue discussion on the appointment.
Riccio concluded the discussion, saying, “It’s not a permanent lifetime appointment. That’s the end of it.”
After the meeting, Palmieri said that although he is disappointed, the festival is fortunate to have a surplus of volunteers and function as a self-sustaining event.