By SHERIDAN ROY
When looking at the Republican slate of candidates nominated to run for town council this year, there are several familiar names. Out of the six candidates, three are incumbents, and three are current planning and zoning commissioners.
While the entire town council becomes up for election every two years, the PZC has staggered, four year terms. Of the three current PZC members seeking a seat on the council, two of them—Mike Del Santo (chair) and Paul Chaplinsky Jr. (vice chair)—technically still have two years left of their four year term. They were elected to the PZC in 2017, and are up for reelection in 2021.
The third PZC member seeking a seat on the council, James Morelli, is up for reelection on the PZC this year.
So what would happen if all three of the current PZC members were elected to town council?
Morelli’s term on the PZC is up this year, so he would have a smooth transition to the council. Del Santo and Chaplinsky Jr. are in a different situation.
“They would have to resign from the PZC,” said Republican registrar Robert Sherman. “They of course can’t serve on two elected boards at once. Their seats would then be replaced until their current term is up, and then [the person who replaced them] could run again in the next election for a full term if they wish.”
Since both Del Santo and Chaplinsky Jr. are Republicans, the remaining Republicans on the board would have to recommend two replacements from within their party. Then, the PZC as a whole would vote to decide to let the recommended replacements in.
“Generally in this situation, [a candidate] would disavow where they are because they don’t want to create a vacancy—they want to give somebody the chance to run a full term until Election Day,” said Sherman, “but it’s not mandatory.”
According to the Southington Town Charter, “Vacancies in elective offices, except in the board of education, the planning and zoning commission and the board of finance, from whatever cause arising, shall be filled by the council for a period until the next town election. Vacancies in the planning and zoning commission shall be filled by the planning and zoning commission for the period until the next town election.”
“In filling any vacancy,” the charter continues, “the council, board of education or the planning and zoning commission shall select a person of the same political party as that of the former incumbent, unless said incumbent was not an enrolled member of a political party.”
Additionally, one of the four PZC alternates, Peter Santago, has been nominated to run for the PZC as a full-time member. His term as an alternate is up in 2021.
If Santago is successful in his campaign and is elected to the PZC, the PZC would also need to make an appointment to fill Santago’s vacancy as an alternate.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.