Walter appointed to Westerlo Town Board

WESTERLO — In a unanimous decision, the Westerlo Town Board last week appointed Susan Walter, a Democrat, to the town board. 

“It’s a great town.  It’s a great country town,” said Walter this week.  All of the people, she said, are very friendly.  She loves living in Westerlo, she said, and serving on the board is a way for her to be involved in the community. 

Walter, 50, replaces Dorothy Lounsbury, a longtime board member who did not seek another four-year term last fall.  Kristen Slaver, a member of the town’s planning board, ran unopposed for the town board in the election but did not take the oath of office on Jan. 1.  Under the Hatch Act, she could not assume the elected post because of her job.

Born and raised in Delmar, Walter graduated from Bethlehem High School.  She has lived in Westerlo for almost nine years, and, for nearly 22 years, she has worked for Pratt & Associates in Delmar.

“I’m a Democrat because Westerlo is a Democratic town,” she said.  All members of the town board are Democrats.  In this rural Helderberg town, Democrats greatly outnumber Republicans.  Only one member of the GOP has served on the board in decades.

Walter, who lives with her son, has never before served on a board.  She heard of the vacant seat from a friend, she said, who told her, “You know, you ought to go for it.” 

Right now, Walter said, she will be “observing and listening” and “taking it all in.”

This year, each town board member is earning $7,250.  Walter will not be paid for January, February, and March, said Richard Rapp, the town’s longtime supervisor and Democratic Party chair.  Walter, who was the only applicant for the seat, will earn $5,437.50 for the year.  Rapp said she will decide whether she wants to be paid quarterly, twice a year, or at the end of the year.  He said he thinks she’ll do a good job. 

An election for the seat will be held in the fall.  Last year, all Democratic candidates ran unopposed. 

Currently, the town’s planning board is working on the town’s first comprehensive land-use plan. 

“Development seems to be moving this way,” Walter said.  “Hopefully, that won’t happen for some time.”

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