FAIRFIELD — A vacant seat on the Town Council will stay open for a little longer.
On Wednesday night, the four sitting council members decided against immediately filling a newly vacated fifth seat, deciding instead to allow more people to formally express their interest in the position.
Town leaders said there has been significant interest in the post, which was vacated by Richard Letourneau.
Formal letters of interest will be accepted at the town office until Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., and the council members plan to make a decision during their next meeting on Jan. 22.
Letourneau was the top vote-getter in a three-way race for two open seats on the council in November. During the council’s first meeting of the year on Jan. 2, Letourneau indicated that he was resigning, because he had a new job that requires him to travel out of state and would compromise his ability to fill the post.
The council is also accepting letters of interest for a seat on the SAD 49 school board, which became vacant when Mike Bolduc resigned recently. Like Letourneau, Bolduc said he had recently accepted a job that required out of state travel. The council voted to formally accept Letourneau’s resignation on Wednesday.
Jim Murray, a former council member who lost his re-election bid against Letourneau and Aaron Rowden, has expressed an interest in the open seat.
Murray got 384 votes to Letourneau’s 470. New council member Rowden was elected with 466 votes.
Town Manager Josh Reny said there is no requirement that the council award the post to the next-highest vote-getter, who would be Murray.
“There is no set process,” he said.
The only requirement is that the council members appoint an eligible candidate to the position sometime in the next 30 days.
Reny said Murray is not the only former council member who is interested in the post.
“Several people have come forward and expressed interest,” Reny said. He said there has been interest in the open school board seat as well.
Rowden said he as voting to delay the decision because of the high level of public interest.
Reny said there are times when publicly elected seats go uncontested. In November’s election, two seats on the school board were filled by candidates who ran unopposed.
Council member Michael Taylor said that, even with the delay, the person appointed by the council will have enough time to fully participate in the annual budget process. The council received a first draft of next year’s budget from the town manager at the meeting.
On Taylor’s motion, the council also voted unanimously to delay the appointment of members to the Labor Negotiations Committee, until the full council is seated.