Townsend Town Councilman Joel Esler announced this week that he does not intend to seek re-election next month, leaving two candidates for two town council seats just 24 hours before the filing deadline.
Townsend Town Councilman Joel Esler announced this week that he does not intend to seek re-election next month.
“I have to do a lot of traveling for work and I just don’t think it’s fair for the residents of Townsend to be represented by someone who can’t be there,” Esler said Tuesday. “I feel like I’ve helped to get Townsend headed down a good path, but unfortunately I just can’t be around for the full rollout of what we have planned.”
As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, only two candidates – incumbent Jermaine Hatton and political newcomer Cindy Cook – had filed to run for the two council seats up for election this year.
If no other candidates file before the 4:30 p.m. deadline on Thursday, Cook and Hatton will automatically assume office in May.
“I’m coming into a time when my kids are getting older and I have more time to help with town organizations and events,” said Cook, a 52-year-old community volunteer and mother of five. “I really want to use the skills that I’ve picked up to be useful and make a difference in Townsend.”
Hatton, a father of one who moved to Townsend in 2008, said he hopes to continue the progress the town has made since he was first elected in 2012.
“I think there’s a lot of unfinished business to do in Townsend and until it is all done, I hope to be a part of that process,” the 42-year-old store manager for Wells Fargo said.
Hatton and Esler were both elected in 2012, after winning more votes than incumbent Steve High, who then was serving as the town’s mayor.
In Townsend, the five-member council elects a new mayor from among its members every year.
Esler was chosen to serve as mayor in 2012, while Hatton took over the role in 2013.
Since their election, has overhauled its trash billing system, added online utility payments, undertaken an overhaul of its charter, broken ground on a long-dormant streetscape project and, later this year, is expected to achieve its first balanced budget in years.
But, Esler said, he hasn’t been able to give the position his full attention since last fall when his employer, the networking security company Sourcefire, was acquired by Cisco Systems, a multinational corporation based in San Francisco.
“My job demands that I do quite a bit of traveling to cities all over the country,” said the father of three who first moved to Townsend in 2007. “Unfortunately, the town meetings are on Wednesdays, which makes it hard for me to be there in person. Lately, I’ve able to participate mainly through email and by telephone.”
Despite his decision step aside, Esler said he intends to remain as actively involved in Townsend as time will allow.
“I first ran because I thought there were a lot of things the town could be doing better and I don’t think you get a right to complain unless you’re willing to do something about it,” Esler said. “If you can turn a town around 180 degrees, I think that’s what we’ve done and there are even more positive changes in the works.”