Appoint Simmons as Stonington selectman

We urge the Democrats who hold majority sway on the Stonington Board of Selectmen to set aside politics and approve the appointment of former Congressman Rob Simmons to fill a pending vacancy on the three-member panel.

It is admirable that Mr. Simmons, at age 71, still feels the call of public service after an impressive career of doing just that in the military, working for the CIA, as a state legislator and, from 2001-2007, serving as a member of the U.S. Congress.

The Republican Town Committee in Stonington has nominated Mr. Simmons to replace Glee McAnanly when she steps down Sept. 15. The selectwoman is leaving to take a job in another state.

It is up to the two Democrats on the board, First Selectman Ed Haberek and Selectman George Crouse, to accept, reject or ignore the recommendation. They must select a Republican to fill the position.

No one can make a credible case that Mr. Simmons is not qualified to be a selectman. A rejection of the recommendation, therefore, would be based on pure politics. Mr. Simmons has been a frequent and vocal critic of Mr. Haberek, including during his appearances on 94.9 News Now, a local conservative talk radio station.

And it is obvious that Mr. Simmons is interested in running in 2015 for the position Mr. Haberek now holds - first selectman.

"That is certainly in the mix, of course," said Mr. Simmons when asked about his interest in the top spot in town government. "But this year is this year. I'm focused on that."

None of that should disqualify him for the job.

We often disagree with Mr. Simmons' politics, and since his days in Congress he has tacked harder right, but he knows how government works at all levels, has an analytical mind when it comes to assessing public policy and fiscal priorities, and will introduce healthy debate to the Board of Selectmen.

Mr. Simmons has also proved to be an advocate for transparency in government; Mr. Haberek, not so much. It is now more than a month since the Freedom of Information Commission ordered the Haberek administration to release a harassment complaint filed against the first selectman. The town has not complied.

Mr. Simmons, we suspect, would have much to say about such stalling tactics.

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