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Ben Faurote was handed a four-year term on the North Adams school board by Decatur City Council during a special council session held Tuesday afternoon.
A razor-thin vote — in what was the council's last-ever school board appointment — saw Faurote retain his board seat by a 3-2 margin over newcomer Stacey Bussel. Future school board seats will be filled by voters as the board later this year begins the transformation from an appointed body to an elected one.
Tuesday's attempt to fill the school board seat was council's second in as many weeks. Meeting on April 17 with only four members present, the council was deadlocked when Councilmen Cam Collier and Matt Dyer voted for Bussel, and Ken Meyer and Charlie Cook voted for Faurote. At that time Mayor John Schultz said candidate interviews would be repeated when Councilman Bill Crone, who was absent during the initial interview session, returned from vacation.
With Crone present on Tuesday, each candidate underwent another 15-minute question-and-answer session with the five councilmen. When it came time to vote, Crone cast his lot with Faurote, while the other four council members voted the same as they had seven days earlier. As a result, Faurote, who was seated by the school board to fill a vacancy created when former member Gary Giessler resigned effective May 1 of 2010, was handed a full four-year term on the board.
While the council was divided in its vote, members were unanimous in their praise for Bussel. A supervisor at Parkview Hospital with a masters degree in nursing administration, Bussel gave precise and thoughtful answers to all questions fired in her direction, prompting several of the council members to urge her to seek a school board seat in the upcoming board elections this fall.
"I came into this process fully expecting to vote for Ben, but I was blown away by Stacey's credentials and her answers," said Councilman Matt Dyer.
Prior to the vote, Councilman Ken Meyer said to both candidates, "There are no losers here tonight. You both did great, and I wish I could vote for both of you. You are both very qualified, and I hope whoever is not selected tonight will stay involved."
"We were very fortunate to have to very qualified people apply for this position," said Schultz.