QUEENSBURY — Town Councilman Doug Irish abruptly resigned Monday morning, four months after he moved out of state.
In an email sent at 7:30 a.m., Irish said the criticism over whether he should resign was affecting the supervisor’s race. He strongly supports Republican candidate Rachel Seeber for supervisor.
“It is unfortunate that my presence, or lack thereof at the Town Board meetings, have been made an issue in the supervisor’s race,” he wrote in his resignation letter. “I wish you good luck in the immediate future on the board and look forward to an honest, issues driven debate for the supervisor’s position going forward.”
He referenced criticism from The Post-Star editorial page of his scheme this summer to run a Town Board candidate who did not want the position. Candidate Hal Bain asked Irish, as well as the town attorney and other Republican officials, if he could drop out of the race. Irish came up with a different idea: run and then resign before taking office, allowing the Republicans to appoint someone else for a year.
The scheme was openly discussed via his official town email account, which is public. Democrats submitted a Freedom of Information Law request for his email and discovered the scheme recently.
Irish defended it as the way politics is done, but criticism mounted, with town Councilman Tony Metivier last week questioning what other schemes Irish had planned. He suggested not voting for anyone who supported Irish — including town Councilman Brian Clements and Seeber.
In Irish’s resignation letter, he said Editor Ken Tingley’s opinion piece criticizing the scheme proved the newspaper would not be unbiased in the race.
He also wrote that he no longer believes he can change his schedule enough to get to the twice-monthly Town Board meetings in person.
“My efforts to attend Town Board meetings have not been successful and, clearly Supervisor Strough prefers it to remain that way,” Irish wrote.
Supervisor John Strough has objected to Irish using video conferencing to attend, saying Irish should instead resign because he no longer lives in Queensbury.
Irish moved to an apartment in North Carolina to take a job at a community college, but his family still lives in Queensbury. He has argued that since his house in the town is still his legal address, he can keep his board seat. State law says his seat is vacant when he ceases to be an “inhabitant,” regardless of what property he owns.
Irish has said repeatedly that he wanted to keep his seat until the election. He wrote that he loved the job.
“I very much enjoyed my work on the Town Board and always told the truth. While this may be inconvenient and even hurtful to some members of the board, the facts are nonetheless the facts,” he said.
Contacted later Monday, Seeber said Irish “did the right thing” by resigning.
“Going door-to-door over the past two weeks in Ward 3, this is without a doubt an issue to our residents,” she said. “My hope is the press and people can now get back to the issues of this campaign: over-taxation in Queensbury, wasteful spending like the $10.5 million (airport) runway expansion and the lack of transparency, including the hiding of a scathing audit report by the current town supervisor.”
Strough is prepared to appoint Irish’s replacement, George Ferone, who is running unopposed for Ward 1. If Ferone is willing, he could be appointed as early as next month. (The board has no more meetings this month.)
“I think it’s good,” Strough said about the resignation. “I think it will help the town move forward.”