Wilton Board of Education (BOE) member Gretchen Jeanes informed her colleagues on the BOE that she would be stepping down from her seat, effective June 15. She submitted a letter just before the Thursday evening (May 13) meeting stating she needed to resign because she is moving out of town.

“I’m sad to be leaving but relocation for our family is priority,” Jeanes said during the meeting.

Board chair Deborah Low circulated a memo to the other members describing the process she is recommending for filling the vacancy that Jeanes’ resignation will create. Low said she hopes to find someone “with recent BOE experience” who will step in to take Jeanes’ place–and asked the BOE to authorize her to identify and nominate a candidate that fits the bill.

Although Low’s memo was not made publicly available with the meeting’s online agenda, she did forward the memo to GOOD Morning Wilton after the meeting ended.

Wilton’s Town Charter specifies that the remaining Board of Education members have 30 days to fill any vacancies; if they have not found a replacement in that time, then the job of appointing someone to fill the opening would fall to Wilton’s Board of Selectmen.

Elected in November of 2017, Jeanes’ departure leaves only a five-and-a-half month vacancy on the remainder of her term, which is up Nov. 30. Low explained that the short vacancy will be “even shorter” because the BOE typically does not meet in July.

Jeanes, a Democrat, would have been up for reelection this November. [In addition, at least two other seats will be in play during Election 2021:  Glenn Hemmerle (R) will term out after eight years on the BOE, and Low (D) will be up for reelection after completing her first four-year term.]

Low recommended that the person considered for the vacancy be “someone with recent Board of Education experience who is both willing to assist for this short period and who will not be running for BOE election in 2021.”

She did not name a candidate to her fellow members at the meeting. She told GMW after the meeting that she has not yet identified a candidate or lined up anyone specific for the job.

In past situations where a vacancy needs to be filled on a Wilton town board, replacements have often been chosen from the same political party as the individual who stepped down from the seat. The current BOE is evenly split with three members elected on a Democratic ticket–including Jeanes–and three other members elected on a Republican ticket.

However, the Board of Education is one of the least politicized boards in Wilton, with all six members almost always voting unanimously on most issues and rarely, if ever, bringing in political issues to board matters.

With Jeanes abstaining, the remaining BOE members voted to approve Low’s plan of identifying someone who fits the job description and nominating them at the June 17, 2021, BOE meeting.