Local real estate agent and Zoning Board of Appeals member John Engel has been chosen to fill the seat on the New Canaan Town Council vacated by Tom O'Dea, who was elected as state representative for the 125th District in the November election.
During Thursday's special meeting at the New Canaan Nature Center, eight of the 11 Council members cast votes for Engel, one of four Republican candidates vying for the empty seat on the 12 member legislative body.
Of the remaining candidates, Republican Town Committee Vice Chairman Kevin Moynihan got two votes and RTC member Dan Radman received one, while Roy Abramowitz withdrew his candidacy at the start of the interview process.
Engel, who ran unsuccessfully against Nick Williams in the Republican caucus for a seat on the Board of Selectmen last year, will now finish the remainder of O'Dea's four-year term, which ends in November of this year.
"It's a great town, it's well managed, and I'm very happy to be a part of such a professional team," Engel said in a brief interview immediately after the vote. "I hope I can do them proud."
Engel, a New Canaan native who attended Saxe Middle School and New Canaan High School, helps manage Brotherhood & Higley Real Estate, a well-known local real estate firm which dates to 1926. Prior to joining Brotherhood & Higley, he worked from 2003 to 2009 as co-founder and CEO of paper supply company Paper.com. Before that he was founder and CEO of global broadband and e-commerce company e-Media.
When asked how confident he was about getting the votes needed to win O'Dea's seat coming into the meeting, Engel said, "I learned in the last election, running for selectman, that anything can happen and you should never go into these things too confident."
"Many of the [Council] members told me they were going to keep an open mind until we got in here tonight," he added, "so I didn't come in here with the expectation of winning — I came in here with the hope of winning."
When asked how he felt about going up against fellow Republicans Moynihan and Radman in the process, Engel replied, "I just wish I was as articulate as both of them. I think they did a phenomenal job describing the needs of the Town Council and how they would fit those needs. They came in here very well read, very familiar with the issues — I had a lot of doubt halfway through the evening."
When asked if he intends to run for the Council following the conclusion of his 11-month term, Engel said, "I'm going to listen to the people of New Canaan, and if they want me to, then I will."
Town Council members cast their votes via paper ballot following a 90 minute interview with the three candidates.
Council members Christine Hussey and John Emert each voted for Moynihan, while Roger Williams cast the lone vote for Radman.
Chairman Mark DeWaele, Vice Chairman Stephen Karl, Secretary Kit Devereaux and members Robert Hamill, Kenneth Campbell, Joe Paladino, Tucker Murphy and Penny Young voted for Engel.