After a two-month vacancy on the Belmont City Council, Cathy Wright was appointed Tuesday night to serve out the remainder of Christine Wozniak’s term.
Wright has been active in her community and Councilman Charles Stone said her experience as an elected official was one of the reasons she earned his vote.
“Cathy is a proven leader with a track record of facing difficult issues head on and working with the community, her fellow elected officials and all the stakeholders to achieve positive outcomes,” Stone said.
Wright spent eight years on the Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District Board of Trustees during which she faced contentious debates, including work on solving school overcrowding before stepping down in late 2011.
“I’m very humbled by the appointment. I looked at, I knew some of the other applicants, they were all pretty great. So I'm very humbled to be chosen,” Wright said.
Stone and councilmen Eric Reed, David Braunstein and Mayor Warren Lieberman uniformly agreed it had been a difficult decision, but unanimously voted for Wright.
Yet none expected appointing a new member midterm and were shocked when Wozniak, who served for six years, resigned Feb. 10.
Instead of holding a special election, the remaining councilmembers opted to appoint a new member. After receiving 12 applications, it was narrowed down to five qualified individuals, who the council interviewed in length, Lieberman said.
Each said it came down to experience.
“I wanted someone who I think is an independent thinker,” Reed said. “She can work with people from different ends of the spectrum, different belief systems and she has more elected experience than anyone else on this council, except for Mayor [Lieberman].”
Lieberman said he’d worked with Wright during her time on the school board and, although the two have had disagreements, is confident in her appointment.
“What was most important to me was to make sure we chose somebody that canbest represent the interests of the folks in Belmont,” Lieberman said. “I was looking for someone, I thought, who will add another dimension to the council, that will add another perspective that the council may not have and I think Ms. Wright will do that.”
Braunstein said he was thrilled to see how many qualified people in Belmont there were from which to choose. He wanted someone who would challenge them and bring a new level of expertise to the council, he added.
“[She] has dealt with the constituents, dealt with a public budget, worked in a variety of capacities with the public, and I think [she] would provide us with an entre into other areas that we might not have on council,” Braunstein said.
Wright said she opted not to run during the last election but that since then her children are more settled in school and it’s the right time in their life for her to take on the challenge.
“I like to look at solutions and not operate within a small framework. But sometimes you have to operate in a small framework so I think it’s important to vet all options,” Wright said. “I think it’s important to provide a different perspective, but also to listen to everyone.”