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GOP Taps Walsh to Fill Vacancy

You can’t be in two places at the same time, but James F. Walsh did the impossible – or so it seemed – Tuesday night.

First, he made a cameo at the Republican Town Committee (RTC) meeting, held at Riverfield School, where he was unanimously approved as the party’s choice to fill the vacancy on the Board of Selectmen. Following his expected approval by the BOS late this afternoon, he will succeed the late Ralph Bowley.

Then, Walsh hustled out to his car and headed over to Osborn Hill School to preside over the Representative Town Meeting’s (RTM) marathon meeting to firm up the town’s budget for 2010-2011. Upon a vote of the membership, the meeting continued well beyond the normal 11 p.m. curfew – to 12:40 a.m.

“It is very bittersweet for me to fill Ralph’s place on the Board of Selectmen,” Walsh told the RTC assemblage after receiving the group’s unanimous support and a ringing round of applause. “Ralph was one of the most classy guys I’ve ever met, honest, and always willing to go the extra mile. I hope I can follow in his footsteps” – Walsh broke into a grin – and keep (First Selectman) Ken (Flatto) honest.”

Bowley, who was elected in 2007, succumbed to cancer on April 10. He was 66. RTC Chairman James Baldwin opened the meeting with a moment of silence for the late selectman.

Walsh, 45, an attorney and partner in the Fairfield law firm Miller, Garrell and Walsh, has been an RTM member for 10 years, serving District 1, which includes the town's Southport neighborhood. He was elected moderator after the GOP gained control of the 50-member legislative body in the November 2009 municipal election.

Walsh, who has resided in Fairfield for more than 35 years, will work with First Selectman Ken Flatto and Selectman Sherri Steeneck, both Democrats, on the town’s governing board. In a sad irony, Steeneck was named to the Board of Selectmen following the death of Democratic Selectman Denise Dougiello, 53, in July 2008. Dougiello served from 2001 until her resignation just days before dying of breast cancer.

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