Facing widespread opposition to his first choice as his deputy, Amherst Supervisor Satish B. Mohan withdrew Erie County Legislator Barry Weinstein's name Tuesday and appointed attorney Roy L. Wixson to the post.
The move came after several Town Board members and some of Mohan's closest advisers expressed surprise, concern and some anger about the choice of Weinstein, a sitting county legislator, to represent Mohan in his absence.
In the end, even Weinstein had his doubts. Appearing at the meeting, Weinstein said he was willing to withdraw his name "if it would help."
Mohan then thanked Weinstein and said he was pleased to appoint Wixson, "who has been a Town Board member and an attorney."
Wixson, who spoke briefly, pledged to serve the town to the best of his ability.
"I was open," said Mohan, discussing his choice after the meeting.
"At 6 o'clock [one hour before meeting time], I had four names. When I got here at 7, I did not know who it would be."
As it turned out, Mohan held a short talk with Wixson and said he would announce his choice during the meeting.
The job, which pays an annual $3,000 stipend, is not well-defined in town law, except that the deputy presides at board meetings in Mohan's absence but does not vote with the board.
Outside the meeting, Wixson said he also expects to fill other roles for Mohan, including offering advice.
"Sometimes we don't agree," Wixson added.
Mohan's selection of Weinstein, the County Legislature's minority leader, last week set off a chorus of complaints from Town Board members and others.
This time Mohan kept mum about Wixson's appointment until the last minute.
Shortly before calling the meeting to order, Mohan indicated that he would stick by his plan to name a new deputy, but he wasn't saying who.
"I will name somebody," he said.
Wixson, who describes himself as a "semiretired" private attorney, served as a part-time confidential adviser to Mohan until early last year but stepped down after county officials ruled that his job was covered by civil service.
Council Member Daniel J. Ward, an attorney, attempted to challenge Mohan, saying the town code required the board to approve Wixson's appointment. But Town Attorney E. Thomas Jones said his study of 30 years of town history and the state law indicated the supervisor has the sole right to appoint his deputy.
Wixson, who has also served as justice in the Town of Napoli, Cattaraugus County, replaces Council Member Deborah B. Bucki, a Democrat, who was appointed a year ago by Mohan.
Bucki thanked Mohan, a Republican, for having the "political courage" to choose her last year.
In other action, the board voted unanimously to adopt the town's comprehensive master plan, making it the first time in more than two decades that the town officially embraced a master plan. Previously, officials said the plan would be used as a guide but stopped short of fully adopting it.
Lawmakers also voted, 4-3, to withhold action on the reappointment of Ed F. Stachura to the board of the Amherst Industrial Development Agency.