by Larry Austin
Chris Aronica will fill the vacant Grand Island Town Board seat after his appointment Tuesday.
Aronica's name was moved by Councilman Gary Roesch and seconded by Councilman Ray Billica. Without discussion, the board approved Aronica's appointment by a 3-1 vote, with Town Supervisor Mary Cooke voting no.
The decision ended a two-week deadlock in finding a replacement for Cooke, whose election to town supervisor opened the council seat she held.
Cooke welcomed Aronica to the board in the seat she once held until her election to the supervisor's post in November.
"I am most pleased to have a full board as we sure do have some work to do," Cooke said. She had moved to appoint Shelia Ferrentino to the seat at the Jan. 3 meeting, but the board deadlocked 2-2 on the matter, with Cooke and Crawford voting in favor of Ferrentino's appointment and Roesch and Billica voting in opposition.
Aronica will serve until Dec. 31, 2012. A special election will take place this year for the seat.
Aronica's experience as a small businessman makes him a good selection for council from among 15 applicants, Roesch said.
"I've known Chris and his family for a long time and they're very active in the community," Roesch said. "Any one of the candidates could have filled this seat, and I just felt that it was to get this thing off the pin and get the issue moving. Like Mary said, we've got a lot of work to do and we really need the fifth member on the board."
Crawford said Aronica was on the short list of candidates for the vacant post.
"We had the opportunity to interview six people from a list of 15. They were all qualified to come in and do the job," Crawford said. "There were some names that were brought up, and unfortunately there weren't three votes. Over the last two weeks I've looked at my notes and gone back and forth and had a lot of interaction with people in the community, calling me, seeing me in Tops, seeing me in local eateries giving me their opinions."
Crawford said former council people expressed "their keen interest" in serving for one year.
Aronica was "certainly not" a compromise choice to resolve the stalemate, Crawford said.
"All the candidates have outstanding qualities and experiences that would benefit the residents of Grand Island," Crawford said.
Aronica is an insurance and financial planner with Aronica and Company. He has lengthy service with the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce and the town's Economic Development Advisory Board.
"I've been involved in this community all my life. The timing was right," he said of his decision to seek the vacant post. "My kids are getting a little bit older, I've got more time, and I've always had a passion for Grand Island."