Silvestri Resigns as President and Councilman in Westerly

With a mounting workload and deadlines fast approaching, the Westerly Town Council was shocked on Monday when its president and second term Councilman James Silvestri unexpectedly resigned, leaving the council shorthanded and pondering how to fill the council vacancy and leadership position.

Silvestri, who was the top vote-getter just seven months ago, notified the council via an email Monday morning to Council vice-president Mario P. Celico. The Council was scheduled to meet Monday night, and did so with Celico assuming the president’s role, at least temporarily. Following his email to Celico, Silvestri called each council member.

“I know things were getting pretty busy, but I had no inclination he would resign,” said Councilman William Aiello. “I respect him for making that decision and putting his business and family first.”

Silvestri, who also served on the council from 1998 to 2004, had said he was resigning because of the increased workload, and his need to devote more time to his business and family. Silvestri is the father of two teenagers and owner of a small business.

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Aiello said the council had yet to determine its process for selecting a replacement for Silvestri. The council can appoint someone to fill the position, and the one question Aiello wants any candidate to answer, “is why do you want to run?” And above all, he said, the most important quality any applicant must have is “integrity.”

Councilman Edward Morrone added that he also wants candidates to be accessible, objective, and good listeners.

“There are many important, controversial and technical substantive issues we’re dealing with,” Morrone said. “Criticism comes easy, solutions come harder.”

Because of charter revisions approved by voters last November, the council is charged with developing an ethics policy by July 1, policies that Aiello and Morrone agree will cost more money than anticipated when the idea of an ethics policy was conceived.

Additionally, the council is debating the issue of drop off zones that would allow beachgoers easier access to beaches, a bed and breakfast ordinance, a harbor and management plan, and various airport issues.

With so much on the agenda, both Aiello and Morrone would like to see the council meet more often, perhaps weekly. The council currently meets in formal session twice a month, and holds a work session once a month.