Town forms new Charter Revision Commission, and Rudy makes a suggestion

A Charter Revision Commission has been selected — the nine members include four lawyers and two returning veterans from the last charter commission in 2014. And following last week’s crazy election, First Selectman Rudy Marconi already has an idea for one potential change they might look into.

“I think there’s going to be one issue that may not surprise you, and that is a change to our charter allowing a person to occupy only one ballot position, rather than have multiple positions on a ballot,” Marconi said. “Choose the office, and that’s it.”

The new Charter Revision Commission will have about a year to come with ideas, refine them, and put together proposals for changes to the town charter that will eventually go before the voters to be approved or rejected. The commission will conduct public hearings, ask sitting town officials for suggestions, research other towns’ charters and experiences changing them, and then put recommendations to send to more public hearings and review by the Board of Selectmen, before going to voters — presumably on Election Day 2018.

Members of the new Charter Revision Commission, appointed by the Board of Selectmen, are Ellen S. Burns, co-owner of Books on the Common, founder of the Ridgefield Open Space Association (ROSA) and member of the recent Schlumberger Citizens Committee; William R. Davidson, a former first selectman of Brookfield; Joseph A. Egan Jr., an attorney and retired judge of probate; Ethel Z. Geisinger, a member of 2014 Charter Revision Commission; Charles W. Hancock, a citizen who was active in debates on the Schlumberger property; Jonathan David Seem, another veteran of the 2014 charter revision; Joseph C. Shapiro, an attorney; Lester D. Steinman, an attorney; and Patrick J. Walsh, an attorney and former member of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

“Everyone was certainly talented and capable of serving,” Marconi said of the 17 residents who applied.

“Speaking for myself, what I hope to achieve in my selections of people — and I hope the rest of the board would agree — was a balance, which I think we achieved,” Marconi said.

“Politically, there are three Republicans, three Democrats and three unaffiliated — so you couldn’t ask for a better political balance.

“In terms of backgrounds, we do have four attorneys: Joe Egan, Joe Shapiro, Patrick Walsh, and Lester Steinman, all with varying degrees of legal experience,” Marconi said.

The first selectmen pointed to Steinman as someone who has “a wealth of experience in writing charters and reviewing charters in Westchester County.”

He liked bringing back Geisinger and Seem, who served on the 2014 charter revision.

Davidson served in all kinds of positions in Brookfield — Board of Finance, Board of Selectmen, and as first selectman, Marconi said.

“Ellen Burns, representing many people in various capacities over the years as a president of ROSA, the Ridgefield Open Space Association, and most recently serving as a member of the Schlumberger Citizens Committee,” the first selectman added.

First call

Marconi said he planned to join the new commission at its first meeting Wednesday night, Nov. 15 — though a couple of members had said they couldn’t make it.

“It’ll be a good beginning for them to call their first official meeting, to start them off,” Marconi said.

“They need to pick a chairman — we won’t do that Wednesday night. I’ll just go over the ground rules: freedom of information, notices, recording all votes …”

The selectmen voted on the new charter commission members Monday, Nov. 6, following interviews that night and on Oct. 30.

Other candidates who sought positions on the Charter Revision Commission were David Cordisco, Dan O’Brien, Bruce Yuen, Jan Rifkinson, Chris Nolan, Chris Sorgie, Karen Sulzinsky, Robert Lenz, and Steve Scala.