WESTFIELD- The Municipal Light Board and City Council held a joint meeting Tuesday to fill the Ward 3 seat on the MLB left vacant by the passing of Jane Wensley.
Dawn Renaudette was voted in by the two groups by a total of 13-3. There was one other candidate, Robert Brogle, who received three votes. Previously Jane Wensley’s son Jeff had put his name in the running for the spot, but he withdrew himself on Monday for unknown reasons. Brogle entered the race within the 24 hours leading up to the vote after Wensley withdrew.
Due to the rules set by the MLB regarding this vote, Brogle was unable to make a statement to the group before the vote. Had he submitted a letter of intent before April 19th, he would have been able to do so. There was a lengthy debate about suspending the rules, first proposed by Councilor Andrew K. Surprise, to allow Brogle time to speak and to be officially on the ballot.
MLB Commission Chair Robert Sacco did not want to suspend the rules, citing the issues that had come up the last time the two groups held a joint vote to fill an MLB seat. In that case earlier this year, none of the candidates were allowed to speak first. Councilor Dave Flaherty argued that allowing another person on the ballot was in the best interest of the city and its residents, and that more people may not have run out of respect for Jeff Wensley and his late mother. Commissioner Ray Rivera disputed that notion.
“You don’t put someone else on the ballot just to put someone else on the ballot,” said Rivera. He reiterated that everyone was given the same chance to submit a letter of intent by April 19.
Following the debate, a vote to suspend the rules was proposed, but failed to gather enough votes, leaving Renaudette the only official candidate. In her speech she talked about her life in Westfield and her career. She said she has lived in the city since 1998 and has two children. She is a Registered Nurse and was previously a visiting hospice nurse. She attended MLB meetings for several months. Her vision for Westfield Gas and Electric is one of cleaner, more efficient energy production with a greater emphasis on renewable energy.
After her statement, Surprise nominated Brogle, citing that there was no rule against nominating a person after the deadline. The nomination was accepted by the joint group. The three votes for Brogle came from Councilors Daniel Allie, Surprise, and Mathewt Emmershy.
The 13 votes for Renaudette came from Commissioners Kevin Kelleher, A. Edward Roman, Francis Liptak, Robert Sacco, Ray Rivera, Thomas Flaherty, and Councilors Mary Ann Babinski, Ralph J. Figy, Micheal Burns, Leslie LeFebvre, William Onyski, Cindy Harris, and Nicholas J. Morganelli Jr.
Renaudette ‘s first meeting as the Ward 3 representative is Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Westfield Gas and Electric Operations Center.