Rapp to resign as supervisor in March

Enterprise file photo — Marcello Iaia

At Westerlo Town Hall: Richard Rapp has announced he will resign this March as Westerlo Supervisor.

WESTERLO — Westerlo’s supervisor of over 45 years, Richard Rapp, announced in a letter on Tuesday that he will be resigning from his post as of March 5 to meet “the needs of family.”

A Democrat in a town where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1, Rapp for years faced few challengers although recently two Republican board members have been elected and four years ago he has faced opposition in the supervisor’s race.

Councilman Joseph Boone read the supervisor’s letter at the town board meeting Tuesday night, with Rapp sitting nearby. His statement went over his more than 50 years of service to the town — combining his time as town assessor as well as supervisor — and the accomplishments that have been made, including moving the town hall to the former Westerlo School and establishing a water district in the Westerlo hamlet.

“I have enjoyed serving the town … ,” Rapp’s letter said, but continued, “The needs of family outweigh the call of public life.”

Rapp has been open that his wife of almost 60 years suffers from dementia, and both are over 80 years old. When he ran for reelection to a four-year term in 2015, he said that he wanted to hit the half-century mark in service to the town the following year. He would have been up for reelection this fall.

Councilman William Bichteman said following his loss in 2017 that he had taken extra responsibility on the board due to Rapp having less time to commit to town duties.

“Personal issues have taken away from the time he needs to serve as supervisor,” Bichteman said at the time.

Boone seemed to have stepped into Bichteman’s role after he was ousted, but Bichteman was then appointed as deputy supervisor in January.

In recent town meetings, Rapp has lost his temper as Republicans on the Democrat-dominated town board proposed resolutions for more oversight; Rapp shouted that he was “not stealing anything,” despite no such accusations being made.

Rapp’s statement on Tuesday ended in a standing ovation from everyone in the gallery. Patricia Boice, Rapp’s administrative aid, was in tears.

One audience member did later ask how Rapp’s successor would be chosen. Boone deferred to Rapp, who had left shortly after his statement was read. Bichteman later said that the board would be discussing the matter at the next town board meeting, which is the same day as Rapp’s last day in office, March 5.

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