Updated: The Town Board appointed Josh Price director of the newly formed Bureau of Administrative Adjudication Tuesday night but not before a battle over the lack of other candidates.
Turned down for the job last month, Price was approved, 3-2, Tuesday after Town Councilman Eugene Cook switched his vote to support him.
Democrats Mark Cuthbertson and Joan Cergol voted against him again, while Republicans Ed Smyth and Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci supported him again. Price was the only candidate put forward by Lupinacci. Cook is an independent who often votes with the Republicans.
The bureau, which will have seven part-time judges appointed by Price to staggered terms of three to seven years, will hear code and ordinance violations with conditions that constitute a threat or danger to health, safety or welfare.
Before the vote, Cergol questioned whether Price’s work in politics suited him for the position. “His background as political operative made him wrong for the job,” she said. “We need a nonpartisan director…Is a request for a nonpartisan candidate so unreasonable? What deals were struck to change the outcome?”
Cuthbertson said, “What possibly could have changed in three weeks? Only one person has been put forward. I have concerns for the beginnings of this bureau. There is much power in one bureau. I’m very fearful for the credibility of the bureau.”
Cook said that last month, he had sided with Cergol and Cuthbertson to reject the appointment because information on the candidate wasn’t delivered to all Town Board members in a timely way. But, by Tuesday’s vote, Cook said, Price’s qualifications had been known to board members.
Price was appointed as Lupinacci’s chief of staff in 2018. He previously ran unsuccessfully for Town Board and s a former business partner of Cook’s.
Cook also said that he thought Cergol and Cuthbertson should have provided the names of other candidates if one candidate wasn’t enough, which led to board members arguing over each other about Price and the lack of other candidates before taking the vote. Cuthbertson insisted that finding good candidates was the responsibility of the administration.