OSSINING, N.Y. – The Town of Ossining Board voted unanimously to adopt a local law to change its highway superintendent from an elected position to an appointed one. But Ossining residents in the unincorporated part of the town will have the final say.
The board voted 5 to 0 during a regular meeting Tuesday night in favor of adopting the local law, which would allow the board to appoint a superintendent of highways rather than have voters decide during each election. Voters will ultimately decide on the law during the Nov. 6 general election when the new law is put on the ballot. If voters approve the change, the law would not take effect until Jan. 1, 2014.
Ossining residents made arguments against the change at a previous public hearing, with several agreeing that the current system is not broken. Town Council member Eric Blaha said Tuesday night he heard those arguments, but disagrees with them.
“I found the comments to be very enlightening however it does not change my personal opinion as a member of this board that in fact this is a system that in many respects is broken,” Blaha said. “I believe that the process that currently exists is not in the best interests of residents.”
Blaha said a few major problems with the current process is that for someone to be elected as the superintendent of highways, the only requirements necessary are that the person be over the age of 18 and a resident of Ossining. Blaha added that the major issue is about safety.
“If the board has the opportunity to appoint an individual, then that appointment can be based on very minimum requirements that currently don’t exist in the election process,” Blaha said.
Council member Peter Tripodi praised the move by the board to bring the vote to the people.
“Voters will be deciding on this. We are merely giving you the tools to (vote),” Tripodi said. “I think this is a great moment for democracy for the town. I wish a lot of major issues like this could be voted on by the public.”
Town Supervisor Susanne Donnelly said Tuesday’s vote would not be the end of the discussions prior to November.
“Most of you have heard our reasoning for the change and I believe we need to move forward for the betterment of the town,” Donnelly said. “We will have more meetings on this issue before the November vote.”