MADISON — Former First Selectman Thomas Banisch, who has served as a volunteer selectman since losing his bid to keep his spot as Madison’s top official in November, has decided to resign after accepting a new job in Hartford.
While it remains uncertain whom the RTC will put forward to replace Banisch, former Selectman Bruce Wilson said Thursday that he submitted an application for the nomination.
The Republican Town Committee aims to nominate a replacement for Banisch before a Board of Selectmen meeting next Wednesday, when members are slated to vote on whether to approve Banisch’s resignation and also could confirm the new appointment, officials said.
Banisch gave his resignation letter to First Selectwoman Peggy Lyons Wednesday morning via email.
“I have taken a position in Hartford and due to scheduling conflicts, I will be unable to attend meetings and other Selectmen events,” Banisch wrote. “It is with deep regret that I must resign from my position on the Madison Board of Selectmen.”
Banisch has accepted a position as an administrative assistant in the House Clerk Office in Hartford.
“The position I took, I have to be in Hartford all day long,” Banisch said regarding his new job. “There’s a lot of meetings coming up for budgets that are in the afternoon and I’m working, basically from 8 to 5, plus travel back and forth. There’s just no way I can do both.”
While Banisch looks forward to his new position, he admits it is bittersweet to be leaving town government.
“I love being first selectman; and selectman, not so much,” he said.
“I was 100 percent committed to doing what was best for the people of Madison and to not be reelected was a real blow,” Banisch added. Banisch said he stayed as long as he did because he wanted to work for the people of Madison.
In bidding farewell to the staff at Town Hall, Banisch explained that although he couldn’t make the commitment that needed to be made to be a selectman that he would miss working on behalf of the town.
“I loved working for the town and I loved working with the employees,” he said, “it was a great crew.”
Lyons, who defeated Banisch for the first selectman seat in November, wished him well.
“The Board of Selectmen are grateful for his service to our town over these many years and wish him the best of luck in his new position in Hartford,” Lyons wrote in an email Thursday.
The RTC is searching for a candidate to replace Banisch and likely will vote on a nominee at its meeting Monday night, state Rep. Noreen Kokoruda, R-Madison, said, adding that the Recommendations Committee will interview applicants over the next few days.
A seven-member body, the committee is led by Ron Clark, who said Thursday morning that he already had received one application and multiple inquiries.
Of Banisch’s resignation, Clark said, “He served long and well, and will certainly be missed. We just hope to find somebody who’s a worthy replacement for him.”
Though Clark declined to say who expressed interest in filling Banisch’s spot, he did not think the committee would have trouble finding a qualified candidate.
One possibility is Wilson, who served on the Board of Selectmen for four years but lost re-election in November. Before he held a position as a selectman, Wilson served on the Board of Education, he said.
“I absolutely have put my name forward,” Wilson said. “I didn’t feel like my work on the board was done. ... I feel like I can hit the ground running.”
Wilson has been off of the board for a little more than two months.
One project Wilson looks forward to working on — if he returns — would be a strategic plan for the town.
“We began a meaningful strategic planning process last year,” he said. “I was excited to be a part of that process at its inception and I would like to see that through if I can have that opportunity.”
Wilson also noted that Madison has many decisions to make regarding capital projects, and said he has the experience to help make those choices.
After reviewing applications, Clark’s Recommendations Committee will put forward its recommendation to the RTC, which then will vote on the nominee, Clark said.
Clark expects the RTC vote will take place Monday during the committee’s meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. and will be held at the Madison police station, Clark said. The meeting is open to registered Republicans who live in Madison.
An approval would allow the RTC to send the nomination to the Board of Selectmen.
That means the vacancy could be filled as early as Wednesday, when a special Board of Selectmen meeting is scheduled for 8 a.m., according to the town’s online calendar.
“We may be able to take action on it Wednesday,” said Selectman Al Goldberg with regard to filling the vacancy.
Banisch served as first selectman for four years, prior to which he chaired the Beach and Recreation Commission. Though he lost November’s election to Lyons, a Democrat, he still received enough votes to hold a general position on the board.
“He has been involved with so many things in this community, just giving and giving and giving,” Kokoruda said. “I can’t think of anyone who has worked harder and done more for Madison than Tom Banisch. Whether it was with our kids on running Little League, teaching religious classes, coaching or being the football team Voice of the Tigers—he’s been there.”
Among his many forms of service to the community, Banisch has served as chairman of two charter revision committees and been involved with Madison’s Beach and Recreation Commission, according to Kokoruda, who added that he also serves on the board of trustees for the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook.
“I just want to thank Tom and wish him well,” Kokoruda said. “He’s going to be missed, but it’s time for him to try some new things.”
Erin Duques, a Republican who earned a position on the Board of Selectmen in November, thanked Banisch for his leadership.
“The information and knowledge he’s shared with me has been very helpful and I wish him the best,” she said.
Goldberg, a Democrat who has served alongside Banisch for the past several years, reflected on his resignation.
“This community salutes Tom Banisch for his tireless devotion and efforts to enhance the town which he so loves,” he said.
Selectman Scott Murphy shared similar thoughts.
“I want to thank Tom Banisch for his service to the town of Madison, and I’m very appreciative for everything he’s done, both for me personally and the citizens of the town,” Murphy said.