By Ann McCreary
The Winthrop Town Council last week appointed Joseph O’Driscoll to fill the council seat held by Rick Northcott, who was appointed in June to serve as mayor, after the resignation of Anne Acheson.
O’Driscoll will serve on the council through the completion of Northcott’s term, which expires at the end of the year. However, O’Driscoll is running unopposed for the council position currently held by Mike Strulic, so he expects to remain on the council in 2018. Strulic chose not to run for re-election.
With all five seats on the Winthrop council up for election on the November ballot, O’Driscoll said the opportunity to begin working now as a council member will allow him to become familiar with issues facing the town.
“With a whole new group of people” joining the council next year, “I looked at this as a great opportunity to get on board (and) hit the ground running,” he said.
Noting the contentiousness that has characterized many recent Winthrop Council meetings, O’Driscoll said he hopes to “break down barriers, get better communication” and “get a little more structured and civilized.”
He said he wants to improve relations between Winthrop businesses and the Westernization committee and town government.
“The business owners heavily support Westernization. To see them get frustrated by something they support is kind of odd,” he said.
O’Driscoll said he’d like to explore ways to improve communication between the town and business owners. He also supports hiring a marshal and deputy as soon as possible to resolve the ongoing lack of police protection in Winthrop.
“It’s really left the town vulnerable, especially in July and August” when the population swells with tourists.
O’Driscoll has lived in Methow Valley for more than 20 years, and moved into Winthrop last fall.