SOUTHBRIDGE – In an unexpected vote at the end of a three-hour town council meeting, Councilor Gus Steeves was elected as vice chair of the Southbridge town council. It initially seemed that in the third meeting of the newly configured town council since the June elections that the council would remain without a vice chairman in place.
At the first meeting after elections, held July 9, newly elected councilor Jack Jovan was elected as the chairperson. However, the council did not elect a vice chair at that time because one member was absent and there was a split vote. The next meeting was held July 16, but the council was unable to vote on vice chair because the call for a vote was not added to the agenda within the 48-hour time frame required by open meeting law.
At the July 9 meeting, the vote was tied between councilor Gus Steeves, who had been vice chair for the previous year and Dave Adams, who is in his first term as a town councilor. At this week’s Monday night meeting, another tie occurred because only eight councilors were in attendance. Although councilor Auclair questioned whether or not it was a violation of charter to be without a vice chair, the meeting continued through all other agenda items.
In a surprising turn of events, councilor Rick Nash suggested near the end of the meeting that another vote for vice chair be held. Nash indicated that he would be willing to change his vote to resolve the issue of vice chair selection. A motion was made to vote again on the issue, and Steeves won the position.