Frank Rizzo | Democrat
The death of Paul Brustman (right) on Friday, along with John Niflot’s earlier this summer, left the Town of Fremont Town Board with a bare quorum. At left is Councilman Paul Kellam.
Fremont wrestles with losses
Story by Dan Hust
FREMONT CENTER September 13, 2013 Two tragedies in the Town of Fremont have left officials reeling and confronted with complex, thorny issues.
John B. “Jack” Niflot, a lifelong resident and a member of the town board for more than two decades, passed away unexpectedly in June.
He was the first Fremont town official to die in office in more than 50 years.
Then, just last Friday, fellow Councilman Paul Brustman unexpectedly died, as well.
“Once again, we’ve lost a fine pillar of the community,” lamented Supervisor George Conklin, who was close friends with both men.
“These weren’t just your run-of-the-mill guys. ... They were integral parts of our community.”
The personal loss is also a governmental one. Both men were up for re-election to a town board that now barely has a functioning quorum.
Brustman, in fact, was one of three candidates in this past Tuesday’s primary and preliminary results indicate he won the most votes as one of two people who would run on the Republican line for Fremont Town Board this November.
The votes likely reflect the enormous respect he engendered in the community, but they leave Republican leaders with a hard choice.
“The way I read the law,” said Sullivan County Republican Elections Commissioner Rodney Gaebel, “and [Democratic Commissioner] Ann [Prusinski] and I agree on this, is that the party has 14 days from the date of his passing to come up with a replacement candidate.”
That date September 20 is coming fast, but Conklin, who’s also the town’s Republican Party chairman, said Brustman’s untimely death is still too raw emotionally.
“Paul was a lifelong friend,” he recalled. “The whole thing is still a shock to us. It’s going to be tough.”
In the meantime, he anticipates the town board will appoint at least one interim councilperson to bring the board up to four members. As it stands now, if just one councilman cannot attend a meeting, the board can’t officially conduct any business.
Due to Brustman’s passing, the next board meeting has been postponed to this Wednesday, September 18 at 7 p.m. at the town hall in Fremont Center.