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October 12, 2018

DANBURY — Republican Richard Hawley resigned his seat on the Danbury school board this week as he takes on more travel for his private job.

His announcement opens a vacancy expected to be filled by the Republican Town Committee, per city tradition, but any resident 18 years or older is permitted to apply by Oct. 25.

Hawley has served on the board since 2011, but this year he has missed almost half of the board’s meetings while traveling the country as a sales representative for a paper manufacturer based in Wisconsin.

He recently took on more accounts for the company — essentially the entire eastern half of the country — which means he’ll be on the road even more in the months ahead, he said.

“I’m taking on more responsibilities at work, and therefore a lot more travel,” he said. “It’s just not fair to have only 10 members there, so I thought it would be best.”

Former school board chairman and fellow Republican Ralph Pietrafesa is expected to be nominated by the party to replace Hawley, GOP Town Committee Chairman Jack Knapp said.

Pietrafesa was unseated in last fall’s election when he and Republican Emanuela Palmares fell just short of the other top vote-getters on the ballot.

But just after the election, Democrat Jeanne Grandieri declined her seat on the board so she could keep her new job as a behavioral therapist with the district, since state law precluded her from serving as both simultaneously.

The remaining board members — split 5-5 between Democrats and Republicans — then fought over her replacement for months until eventually selecting Palmares in January.

The board expects to select its nominee from the local Republicans, but the seat is open to any applicant wishing to fulfill the remainder of Hawley’s term through November 2019.

The town committee likely will consider Pietrafesa’s nomination at its meeting Monday night, Knapp said.

The board expects to consider the nominee or interview all the applicants, if others apply, at its meeting in November, Johnston said.

“Richard will be sorely missed,” Johnston said. “He’s a businessman and he’s phenomenal with numbers, so he’s been heavily involved in the contracts and the budgeting. We’re hoping to get somebody to step up who can try to fill his shoes in there.”

zach.murdock@hearstmediact.com

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