By Dan Moffett
Ocean Ridge commissioners have decided to let the voters choose who should fill the seat vacated by former Vice Mayor Richard Lucibella, who resigned in December after prosecutors filed three charges against him stemming from an alleged shooting incident at his home.
Mayor Geoff Pugh said because Lucibella’s seat is scheduled to be contested in the March 14 municipal election, it doesn’t make sense for commissioners to appoint someone to fill the position for what would be only one meeting.
“It would be almost an exercise in futility if we did appoint someone for just one month,” Pugh said during the Jan. 9 town meeting.
Commissioner James Bonfiglio worried that appointing someone might suggest to voters that the commission approved of the replacement as the permanent choice for the three-year term.
“I think it might give somebody, if they decided to run in the election, an implied endorsement in the election if they were appointed by us to the seat a month before the election,” Bonfiglio said. “I think it’s hard to do that so close to the election without seeming to say that we want you folks to vote for this commissioner.”
Bonfiglio’s seat also comes up for reelection in March; the other three commissioners’ terms expire next year. The commission also unanimously approved Bonfiglio’s appointment to replace Lucibella as vice mayor.
Lucibella faces one count of battery on a law enforcement officer and another felony count of resisting an officer with violence, as well as a misdemeanor firearm charge, after the altercation with town police on Oct. 22.