There were no fireworks at the first meeting of the Halfmoon Town Board since Supervisor Mindy Wormuth was urged to resign by her colleagues on the board.
The quick and calm meeting Wednesday night might have been partially due to Wormuth’s absence, which was attributed to a family emergency by Walter Polak, a board member and deputy supervisor, who ran the meeting.
It wasn’t until the end of the meeting that anyone talked about the reported federal inquiry into Wormuth. During the public comment period at the end, resident Deanna Stephenson asked about the elephant in the room.
Stephenson is a Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Wormuth in 2011 and is now mounting a bid for a seat on the Town Board, which is controlled by Republicans. She asked about a state audit critical of the town’s finances, before diving into what might happen if Wormuth doesn’t return to the Town Board.
Polak said he would fill the duties of supervisor if the job wasn’t filled for whatever reason. “We’ll run business as usual every day,” he promised, noting that on Wednesday he performed some of Wormuth’s duties because of the family emergency.
As of Tuesday, though, it didn’t appear that Wormuth had any plans to give up her job until her current term expires at the end of the year. Wormuth, who isn’t running for reelection, released a statement Tuesday saying the request for her to resign was ridiculous and that the investigation into her would find she did nothing wrong.
Wormuth has not made a public appearance since the call for her to resign; she was excused from Tuesday’s County Board of Supervisors meeting.
Defense attorney E. Stewart Jones, who has been retained by Wormuth and her husband, Larry, previously told the Gazette that he had been hired because of a federal inquiry. “Everybody should stay tuned and see what evolves, if anything,” Jones said.
The other members of the board, Polak, Paul Hotaling, John Wasielewski and Craig Hayner, argued in a news release on Tuesday that Wormuth had become an ineffective leader and it was time for her to go.
Polak reiterated that stance Wednesday night, saying Wormuth’s presence on the board created credibility issues for the town government in the minds of some citizens.
Stephenson, during the public comment period, said the town deserved better. No one else rose to speak, but she received a round of applause from some members in the crowd following her remark.
Polak, after the meeting, said that Stephenson’s remarks were politically motivated. He and Hotaling are running this fall against Stephenson and Joseph Christopher, also a Democrat. The next supervisor for the town will be Republican Kevin Tollisen, who is running unnopposed. He won the town Republican Committee’s endorsement this spring and Wormuth eventually decided not to challenge him in a primary.
According to the Halfmoon website, the next Town Board meeting is Oct. 2.