Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Swearing-in date sparks political tiff in Vernon

By Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
October 16, 2007

VERNON - Democratic Mayor Ellen L. Marmer, who's proposing to push off the official swearing-in ceremony of newly elected officials for six days in light of a possible recount after the Nov. 6 election, is running scared, Republicans say.

"It sounds like she's concerned about losing," Deputy Mayor and Republican mayoral candidate Jason McCoy said today. "She must be getting bad responses on her door-to-door and feels it's going to be a close race."

It's also an attempt to stay in control for as long as possible, said McCoy and other Republican council members who plan to vote down the proposal at tonight's Town Council meeting.

No so, says Marmer, who admits her initial plan for a Nov. 7 swearing-in date was ill-conceived.

There are the Town Council and school board seats to consider, she said today, noting the 2005 recount for a Democratic Town Council seat between Connie Simon and Tom Didio.

In that election only 28 votes separated Simon from DiDio, who waived his right to a recount and instead became Democratic town chairman.

"What makes them think that the only elected office in play is the mayor?" Marmer asked. "I think if anybody runs scared it should be the Republicans. I think they better start licking their wounds now."

Marmer says the change is nothing more than being pragmatic and judicious, allowing time for a recount for any office should one be needed.

However, moving the official swearing-in ceremony from the originally scheduled Nov. 7 date to Marmer's proposal of Nov. 13 could produce a slight hitch, as it would leave the town without an official head of state for nearly 20 hours.

According to the town charter, the current mayor and Town Council members hold office only until midnight Nov. 12, 2007.

Under the proposal, the newly elected candidates won't be sworn in until 7:30 p.m. the following day - a full 19½ hours later.

Marmer says that glitch can be remedied easily: A contingency allows the newly elected mayor to be sworn in privately before the term expiration of the last office holder - something that's been done in the last two elections, she said.

Marmer said that the initial date of Nov. 7 - the day following the election - was ill-conceived and chosen close to a year ago when the Town Council calendar was scheduled as a whole.

The swearing-in ceremony typically is held seven to 10 days after the election, allowing time for a recount if needed, she said.

"We chose Nov. 7 way back when we looked at the calendar for the whole year, and I didn't think it out, frankly," Marmer said. "It wasn't until recently when I realized it could be a problem."

A recount was needed when Marmer first took the mayor's office in 2003 from former Mayor Diane Wheelock by a margin of only 26 votes.

McCoy says he doesn't think this election will be that close.

"This is just a good example of her issues with control and not being able to deal with other ideas," McCoy said, adding: "If she lost, she wouldn't want to give up the position too early."

©Journal Inquirer 2007