|North Adams Council Selects Oleskiewicz to Fill Vacant Seat|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff|
08:56PM / Tuesday, August 11, 2020
|The council heard from seven of eight candidates seeking to fill its vacant seat. |
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council voted to fill its vacancy with the 10th highest vote-getter in last year's municipal elections.
Peter Oleskiewicz was nominated by Councilor Wayne Wilkinson and elected by unanimous decision (with Councilor Jessica Sweeney absent). The owner of Desperados Mexican Restaurant was 103 votes short for a seat on the nine-member council last November.
"Once I was No. 10 in the election and this is the reason I was able to get back on council, because the council thought you're the 10th finisher," Wilkinson said in giving his reasoning for nominating Oleskiewicz. "All the other candidates I think are very well qualified and the only reason I nominated Mr. Oleskiewicz is because he got more votes than five North Adams city residents to be on the council. I think this position deserves to be an elected one, not appointed one."
Oleskiewicz will fill the unexpired term of Robert Moulton Jr., who resigned after remarks he made on his public access show about Black Lives Matter and COVID-19 were condemned by colleagues and constituents. The council decided to solicit interested candidates, as it did in 2017 when then Councilor Nancy Bullett resigned. Wilkinson, who had finished 10th, was selected to complete her term.
Oleskiewicz said he applied as a candidate because of his 10th place finish, "otherwise I probably would have just waited until the next cycle."
"But being the 10th vote, I see myself as laying the groundwork in the previous election," he said. "And I think I also proved enough to the community that I was worthy enough to be given their trust."
He said he had a deep seated interest and love for the community and that until the pandemic, he had attended all the meetings.
"So I pretty much have been paying attention and trying to stay up on top of things so, hopefully, when the time came, I could fill that seat and it make it a smooth transition," Oleskiewicz said. "I just like to state what an awesome community we live in. ... I would very much like to give back. So I would like to come to the seat with an open mindset with no bias, and I want to work with my peers."
Other candidates who had run for council in the past included Brian Sapienza, a member of the Public Arts Commission; Ashley Shade, a civic, political and LGBTQ activist; and Ronald Sheldon, who wants to be a voice for the city's disabled. Also expressing interest were newcomers Howard Carter, an attorney and former Navy SEAL; Gina Consolini, a registered nurse; Wayne Gelinas, who is resurrecting the historic Wigwam; and J. McConnell, a software developer. Each spoke about their interest in serving and their backgrounds, with the exception of Consolini, who did not attend the meeting.
Council President Paul Hopkins and several other councilors thanked the candidates for seeking to serve the city and encouraged them to consider running for office next year.
"So very impressed by the comments that we heard tonight the caliber of those who willingly held their hand up and I think all of us who are councilors now know how difficult that can be," said Hopkins. "I say for the record, I hope to see some of you run in the future."