Montgomery County

Thayer replaces Walters as chair of Montgomery County board

Titles and roles shifted as a new chairman and vice chairman were seated and another supervisor welc

Titles and roles shifted as a new chairman and vice chairman were seated and another supervisor welcomed at Tuesday’s Montgomery County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Town of Root Supervisor John Thayer was unanimously voted in as the new chairman.

When the previous board chairman, Charleston Town Supervisor Shayne Walters, lost his months-long battle with cancer Oct. 8, Thayer, the vice chairman, temporarily stepped in. Now he will continue in that role.

“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “You never expect to have to do something like this, but that’s why we have systems in place.”

With budget planning in full swing, it’s a complicated time to undertake changes in leadership.

“It’s always a busy time,” he said, adding that he hopes to get the county budget ironed out by the end of November.

Even so, he called the transition “mostly seamless.”

“There’s nothing really top secret,” he said. “If you’re a supervisor, you know everything that’s going on.”

In his new position as chairman, Thayer said he’s authorized by the board to sign contracts, but other than that his job is the same.

County residents can expect little change in the objectives of leadership. “I don’t think our philosophies were that different,” Thayer said, referring to himself and Walters. Thayer’s term will end Dec. 31, after which the county supervisors will elect new leadership.

Also Tuesday, Amsterdam 3rd Ward Supervisor Ronald J. Barone Sr. was unanimously chosen to replace Thayer as vice chairman.

“He has tremendous experience,” Thayer said. “He’s been vice chairman at least three times.”

Barone’s term also will end Dec 31.

If Thayer and Barone’s job descriptions have not changed dramatically, the same cannot be said of Robert Sullivan, the new town of Charleston supervisor.

When Sullivan, as deputy supervisor, was appointed to fill Walters’ position, he found himself in charge of heavily delayed budget preparations. “We were supposed to have a tentative budget Sept. 20,” he said. “As it stands, we’re still gathering figures.”

After 30 years on the Town Board, Sullivan has seen a quite few budgets come together, but he said it’s harder now that he’s responsible.

“It looked so easy when Shayne was in charge,” he said, “but he was so good at his job, it probably was easy for him.”

In the past weeks the Charleston Town Board has leaned on its bookkeeper and even the help of surrounding town supervisors.

Even while Walters’ passing set back the writing of the budget, Sullivan said the past supervisor left the town in good financial shape.

“We’ve lost a great statesman,” he said. “We’ll all miss him.”

Sullivan will remain the Charleston Town Supervisor through November 2013, at which point he plans to return to his regular post on the Town Board.

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