KEY LARGO -- Almost two months after the resignation of Susan Hammaker, the Key Largo Wastewater Board last week appointed David Asdourian to serve out the final two years of her term.
At its Oct. 2 meeting, the board again debated for more than an hour over filling the vacant seat after a surprising move by board member Charlie Brooks opened the door to Asdourian's appointment.
Brooks, who has been opposed to appointing someone to the empty seat before the Nov. 6 election, inserted an item in the meeting agenda to appoint Asdourian. This shocked board member Norm Higgins, who had several times tried unsuccessfuly to convince his colleagues to appoint Asdourian.
Chairman Robby Majeska was the lone dissenter in the appointment. Majeska said he felt it was wrong for the board to appoint someone to the empty seat just weeks before the election.
Asdourian, along with Majeska, Brooks and two other candidates, are vying for two at-large seats on the board. Board members had been discussing naming the candidate with the third most votes to Hammaker's seat, among other options.
"We need to let the voters decide," Majeska said.
Higgins has been critical of the board for ignoring its governing charter, which required the vacated seat to be filled by Sept. 21. Board member Andy Tobin agreed with Higgins throughout the process that an appointment should be made, but Tobin wanted to advertise the position and take resumes, something Higgins opposed because it wasn't required under the charter.
Brooks last week said he decided to support Asdour-ian's appointment because of the charter deadline. In previous meetings, however, that didn't appear to be a concern for Brooks.
Tobin criticized Brooks for not agreeing to advertise for a larger pool of candidates. But he said he would go along with the appointment because of a recent two-hour discussion he had with Asdourian about wastewater issues, including the interlocal agreement with Islamorada. Tobin was the board's most vocal supporter of the agreement.
Also speaking at last week's meeting in support of Asdourian was Hammaker.
"It was a grave disappointment to me to hear Chairman Robby, meeting after meeting, succumbing to popular pressure," Hammaker told the board minutes before they voted to add Asdourian to the board.
Asdourian's name appears on the sample ballot sent out by the Supervisor of Elections Office last week. The office is expected to notify voters at the polls that he is no longer running for office. An enclosure in the absentee ballot package informs voters that Asdourian has withdrawn his name from consideration.
Asdourian, who has lived in Key Largo since 1993, recently retired from AT T where he worked on aerial and underground installation. Other than improving his membership as a Mason, Asdourian said he plans to focus his time on the board.
In other business, an odor problem at the mile marker 106 vacuum station appears to be corrected, according to District Manager Margaret Blank.
Blank said carbon media in the station has been replaced and she has since heard no more complaints from residents. The board instructed Blank and staff to contact the residents and make sure the problem is resolved rather than relying on complaints.