Killingworth voters will go into Tuesday’s election without a definite answer on whether Selectwoman and Board of Education member Eileen Blewett will be allowed to keep both seats if she is re-elected to both.
No judgement was made during a Thursday morning hearing on a lawsuit Blewett brought against First Selectwoman Cathy Iino, Town Clerk Dawn Mooney and Town Attorney David Tycz – which seeks to resolve whether Blewett sitting on both boards is a violation of the town charter.
Tycz has issued a written opinion stating that he believes it is a violation of the town charter, and Mooney has said she can’t seat Blewett if she wins re-election to both positions.
The Republican Town Committee and Blewett have challenged Tycz’s interpretation of the charter, and insist she should continue to hold both seats, as she has since 2019, if re-elected. Blewett’s lawsuit asks for a court order that Blewett must be seated on both boards if re-elected on Tuesday.
On Thursday, Blewett’s attorney David Cutillo asked Middletown Superior Court Judge Rupal Shah for additional time to review a motion to dismiss the lawsuit the town filed on Wednesday, as well as an objection to Cutillo’s motion that was filed shortly before the hearing Thursday morning.
Shah granted an extension, but warned Cutillo that the court will still have to rule on Tycz’s argument that the court has no jurisdiction over the lawsuit.
Tycz – the town attorney – argued that the Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over the Republicans’ complaint because it isn’t “ripe.” Tycz argued in his motion to dismiss the lawsuit that the court can’t order that Mooney seat Blewett on both boards if re-elected, because the election hasn’t happened yet.
Courts have jurisdiction to resolve “actual” controversies, but the town argued that Blewett’s complaint is based on a hypothetical harm that assumes she will be re-elected to both the Board of Selectmen and Board of Education.
“The phrase ‘if elected,’ or words to that effect, are featured prominently throughout [Blewett’s] application and filings with the Court,” Tycz said. “On its face, [Blewett’s] claim is contingent upon an event that has not and may never transpire. Should [Blewett] fail to be elected to one or both offices, there would be no basis for this Court to grant the relief [she] seeks, because she would have no legal claim to the concurrent offices.”
Shah said that, given Tycz’s argument, she is not sure the matter was ripe for a court decision. And she warned Cutillo that, even with the hearing being postponed until after the election, the court will have to rule on whether it had jurisdiction at the time the lawsuit was filed.
“Even if [Blewett] were to win the election on Tuesday, the court is still going to have to consider that motion to dismiss and whether or not this action can go forward,” Shah said.
Reached Thursday afternoon, Cutillo said he wanted to resolve the case on its merits today, but said the town forced his hand by filing its motions so close to the hearing. He said he is “very confident” that his argument will stand up in court, but said it wouldn’t be fair to Blewett if he tried to argue against a motion he had only 10 minutes to review.
“We are confident,” Cutillo said. “We have full faith in our argument, and we’re looking forward to getting to the merits before the court.”