ELKTON — Mayor Rob Alt and the Board of Town Commissioners are turning their attention to filling the seat left vacant by the passing of Commissioner Mary Jo Jablonski last month.

“This is the business I did not want to do tonight. But we have to move forward to fill the position of town commissioner,” Alt said during Wednesday’s town meeting.

According to the town charter, the mayor must recommend an appointee to finish the remaining three years of Jablonski’s term and he or she must be approved by the majority of the board.

No candidate has been put forth by Alt, but he indicated that it would be a joint decision between himself and the board. He told the Whig earlier this week there is a short list of residents that have expressed interest. The mayor hopes to gain more candidates by placing an advertisement for the position in the Cecil Whig on March 8 and March 19.

“I would hope to schedule interviews if needed at the end of March, and I would like to swear in a new commissioner in April, or May at the latest,” Alt told the Whig earlier this week.

A board quorum comprised of Alt and commissioners Jean Broomell and Earl Piner approved the mayor’s request. Commissioner Charles Givens was absent, as he was coaching the Elkton High School basketball team in a playoff game.

Wednesday night was the first meeting the board of commissioners held since Jablonski’s passing on Feb. 21. A bouquet of flowers was placed on the dais where Jablonski sat, and Alt and the commissioners paid tribute to their colleague and friend with a few words as the meeting opened.

Alt said that he first asked Jablonski to become involved in town events as a volunteer for the Fall Fest in 1999, when she was a very close friend with his sister. She elevated the event to a whole new level, he recalled.

Jablonski went on to become executive director of the Elkton Chamber & Alliance for nearly two decades, executive director Boys & Girls Club of Cecil County from 2009 to 2015, and oversaw the obtaining of Elkton’s Main Street Maryland and Arts & Entertainment District program designations. She served on the board of commissioners since 2006 until her passing, winning re-election to a new four-year term just last year.

“She will truly be missed not only as a leader for our community, but a dear friend to me,” Alt said. “I can always say that I know that her heart bled Elkton. We may not have agreed all the time on a lot of different things, but she truly believed in this town.”

Piner, who was visibly emotional, kept his comments brief and meaningful.

“I always used to joke around and say there were only two women to keep me straight. That was my wife and Mary Jo. I’m going to miss her,” he said.

Broomell said that she knew this meeting without Jablonski would be difficult, and she spent time searching for words that would express the “sorrow in our loss and words that would tell the tale of Mary Jo’s legacy.”

“There’s just not enough words to do her justice. I will miss her laugh, her generous heart and her camaraderie. It was a pleasure to work with her, but it was truly an honor to know her,” she said. “I miss you, Mary Jo.”

Town commissioner candidates must have at least one year residence in Elkton, be a registered voter and will be required to file a financial disclosure statement with the town administration. Those who are interested in the position on the board are also asked to provide a resume and a letter of interest as well.

The financial disclosure forms can be requested via email at administration@elkton.org or by calling 410-398-0970 extension 142.

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