Fredonia appoints new trustee, police chief

New leadership

OBSERVER Photo by M.J. Stafford EvaDawn Bashaw, left, was sworn in Monday night as a new member of the Fredonia Village Board of Trustees. She was sworn in by Village Clerk Annemarie Johnston.

Fredonia’s Board of Trustees filled its vacancy and hired a provisional police chief for the village during a lengthy, often testy session Monday night.

EvaDawn Bashaw, a former village trustee, was appointed to fill the position that Douglas Essek vacated when he was elected mayor. As for the police chief spot, the Fredonia Police Department’s Sgt. Phillip Maslak was promoted to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Bradley Meyers.

The Bashaw appointment was not on the original meeting agenda — but Trustee James Lynden insisted, during a workshop at the beginning of the nearly three-hour session, that it get put there.

“It’s obvious we have something very important missing on this agenda,” he said. Citing the large amount of village business already on Monday’s agenda, he said it was vital that a full Board of Trustees tackle it. Fellow Trustee Kara Christina stated she agreed with that stance. Lynden motioned that the board vacancy get filled immediately.

Essek sought Village Attorney Daniel Gard’s opinion. “It can be handled right now … it can wait until the regular meeting,” Gard stated, adding that as the village mayor running the meeting, the decision was Essek’s to make.

Trustee Roger Britz motioned for a closed-to-the-public executive session, so trustees could discuss board candidates in private. “We are prepared with a qualified person,” Lynden replied. Gard said the board had to vote on Lynden’s motion first and Essek allowed it to move ahead.

“I have not been included in any kind of conversation,” Britz said. “I have received two letters of intent.”

“All the trustees are familiar with the candidate,” Lynden replied.

Britz insisted he would rather discuss it in executive session. “I don’t know that this is executive session material,” Christina said. “I don’t think it is,” added Lynden. “You’re talking about a public officer.”

Lynden then motioned to name Bashaw to the board. Christina seconded the motion.

Britz continued to disagree with the way the appointment was getting handled. “Yes, there is quite a bit of business on the agenda … the candidate they brought forward hasn’t been briefed,” he said. “This should have been executive session material to discuss the other candidates.”

However, Britz proved to be the only Board of Trustees member who voted against Bashaw’s appointment. Its newest elected member, Roger Pacos, gave her qualified support in voting “yes.”

“I would have preferred to have a discussion with the whole board ahead of time,” Pacos said. “It probably wouldn’t change my vote.”

After the 3-1 vote, Bashaw was immediately summoned from the audience so she could get sworn in by Village Clerk Annemarie Johnston.

Bashaw almost immediately was a swing vote. Britz motioned for an executive session on another matter, “the potential employment of a particular person.” After Christina and Lynden voted “no” and Britz and Pacos voted “yes,” Bashaw cast an affirmative vote, resulting in the meeting getting closed to the public for about an hour.

When back in open session, Essek acknowledged during a response to Lynden that the employment of a new police chief was under discussion during the closed portion.

The resolution hiring Maslak, which passed unanimously, states he is a provisional appointment — apparently meaning he will have to pass a police chief civil service exam to keep his job. He will be paid $92,000 per year. There was no public discussion of Maslak’s appointment by trustees.


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