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Voters to determine fate of office

TICONDEROGA - Ticonderoga voters will be asked if they prefer an appointed highway superintendent to an elected one on Election Day.

The Ti town board has decided to put the question on the ballot Nov. 2.

If voters pass the referendum, the switch would take effect Jan. 1, 2012.

"The town would accept resumes and do interviews for the position," Ti Supervisor Deb Malaney explained. "There would be an interview committee of community resident and town board members."

The appointed highway chief would serve at the pleasure of the town board, meeting the person could be removed at any time.

Malaney admitted the debate of elected vs. appointed highway superintendent became an issue following the arrest and guilty plea of Highway Superintendent Arthur "Pat" Morrison Sr.

Morrison entered a plea of guilty to official misconduct May 26 and resigned. His resignation was part of a plea agreement. Morrison was arrested, charged with accepting illegal kick backs from a vendor, in September 2009.

"There's no question, that situation opened a lot of eyes," Malaney said. "We're looking to make the position more accountable."

A similar debate was held in 2003. At that time the town asked voters if they wanted to combine the highway, water and sewer departments in to a department of public works with an appointed DPW chief. That proposal was rejected by voters.

Malaney noted this is a different plan. It would not consolidate the town departments into a DPW. There would still be a highway superintendent, although the person would be appointed.

The idea of an appointed highway superintendent has support, Malaney said.

"Some of the same people who opposed the DPW idea back then have come forward and asked us to look into it again," the supervisor said. "We've decided this is the best option at this time."

Ticonderoga has no highway superintendent at present. Richard Quesnel is acting superintendent, following the resignation of Morrison.

The town board considered appointing a replacement for Morrison, accepting eight applications, but decided to leave the post vacant until the November election.

In November, voters will elect a highway superintendent to fill the remainder of Morrison's term, which expires Dec. 31, 2011.

Republican nominating petitions have been filed by Michael Parent, a retired highway crew supervisor, and Paul Sharkey, a previous candidate for the post.

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