THURMAN - For weeks, The Thurman supervisor's seat has stood empty at the Warren County Municipal Center, and Thurman's townspeople have wondered who might be willing to step forward and be the chief officer of their town.
However, two local residents offered this week to lead the town, after the recent departure of former Town Supervisor John Haskell and the unwillingness of acting Supervisor Leon Galusha to permanently assume his post.
Local contractor Lawrence "Red" Pitkin as well as community activist and former Athol Postmaster Joan Harris both announced this week their interest in leading the town.
The town board, which has the power to appoint a Supervisor until next November, is presenting the candidates to the public in a town meeting at 6 p.m. Friday Dec. 5. Board members have pledged to listen to local citizens' input in choosing the town government's new leader.
As of Monday, Thurman Town Clerk Cynthia Hyde had received letters of interest exclusively from Pitkin and Harris, although hearsay is circulating that others are also interested in the post.
Pitkin said a healing process needs to occur after the contentious divisions occurring in the wake of Haskell's conviction for defrauding the government, an investigation and trial that included testimony from board members, with some exonerating and others implicating him.
"We have to work to end this battle between life-long residents and newcomers," Pitkin said Wednesday. "We are a town divided- and I have a history of being able to listen to people and bridging gaps between different groups."
Harris also said that the town needs to turn away from divisiveness and needs to work together toward common goals.
"Strife, dissent and animosity don't reflect the true personality of the townspeople of Thurman," she said Monday.
With years of experience in accounting and office management, Harris has pledged to straighten out the finances of town government to the benefit of taxpayers.