Atty. Jeremy Taylor has been selected by the town council to serve as the Southington Town Attorney in what became a split vote down party lines at the Dec. 9 meeting.
Back at the Nov. 12 meeting, the decision to appoint a town attorney was tabled until the December meeting. Council chair Victoria Triano (R) formed a committee to collect and review resumes for the position. The committee was made up of Republican and Democratic councilors along with the town manager.
Democrats expressed concern that the position had become a political appointment “under the guise of a process,” said minority chair Chris Palmieri. He also said he was informed of the decision of the Republican caucus but was not asked where the Democratic caucus stood on the process.
“I do not feel it was a fair and open process,” said Palmieri. ‘There were no interviews, no rubric, no formal assessment criteria—all we had to go on was based upon submitted resumes.”
Councilor Val DePaolo (D) originally was selected to be on the search committee for the position, but had recused herself since she is an attorney in town and one of the candidates was an attorney from her office. DePaolo said she would have liked to have seen the process be more than just a review of applications.
“At the first meeting, the vote was tabled, so it appeared to me it wasn’t going to be just a political appointment, but a process,” said DePaolo. “I think this process maybe was lacking a bit.”
Triano said she had not planned to perform interviews on the candidates “because we already know these attorneys,” and that all five candidates were “very competent and well-qualified.” Ultimately, Taylor was selected based on availability and the fact that he has worked with the town in the past as the assistant town attorney.
“We selected this person because it was the right thing to do, not because of a hidden agenda or political appointments,” said Triano. “Our caucus selected the attorney we felt was the right candidate. The candidate coming in tonight, whether you want to support him or not is up to you all.”
Vice chair Tom Lombardi (R) said he was “astonished” that Palmieri would be opposed to the process based on how the appointment went back in 2017 when Democrats held the majority and appointed Attorney Carolyn Futtner to the position, a Democratic candidate for council who lost the election.
“In 2017 there was absolutely no process, and it was simply a political gift to someone who ran for council,” said Lombardi. “I appreciate the fact that the chair took this up and did accept resumes from the public.”
Palmieri agreed that back in 2017, it was in fact a political appointment, but argued that’s the way it had always been done up until that point.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.