Lee Hossler has served on the Monroe Economic Development Commission for the past decade, and as chairman for three years before not being nominated again this year. On Tuesday, he decided to step down.
He is proud of adding expo tables at Monroe Means Business, organizing brokers lunches and bus tours that gave Monroe exposure, and of how the EDC reached out to the business community while compiling an inventory of all town businesses a few years ago.
"I'm gonna miss it. I know," Hossler said Tuesday night. "I like being around those people, the business people, but it's time to move on. I’ll move onto something else. I have some offers."
When asked why he decided to resign, Hossler said he felt mistreated by First Selectman Steve Vavrek at the last EDC meeting on Jan. 30.
"He was so condescending and outright rude," Hossler said of Vavrek. "I'd done my 10 years and worked hard doing it without pay and he treated me like a paid employee. He stood up there and literally said, 'If you don't put your act together, I'll replace you.' Now here's his chance."
Hossler said he believes Vavrek's comments were directed at him and the two Democrats serving on the commission. If there was a problem, he said the first selectman should have pulled him aside, rather than airing it out in front of the entire commission.
On Tuesday night, Vavrek, who is a Republican, said his comments were certainly not directed at Hossler, adding he was simply saying he wants every person serving on a board and commission to do the best they can for the town, regardless of political party.
"He's done a lot of things I asked him to," Vavrek said. "I feel bad that he's leaving on that thought."
'At Odds All the Time'
Hossler also said he believes the election of officers on the EDC was "orchestrated" by Vavrek.
"It was orchestrated, I feel, to get me out of there," Hossler said. "He and I didn't see eye-to-eye on things. That's not a good way to do business, if you're at odds all the time."
One issue the two men disagree on is the need for a paid economic development coordinator. Vavrek serves in the role and says he does not believe Monroe needs a paid position.
Two days before the Jan. 30 meeting, Hossler says he told fellow commissioners he wanted to run for another term as chairman and that they said they would support him. Then before the meeting, he said he was told they would not support him.
"Something happened and it happened quickly," Hossler said. "I've been told the RTC was unhappy to have an EDC person who was a 'U' rather than an 'R' and they wanted an 'R', so they have an 'R.'"
Hossler, who is Unaffiliated, was talking about the Republican Town Committee.
Vavrek said there is nothing to that. The first selectman appoints EDC members and he noted how there is a mix of Unaffiliated voters, Democrats and Republicans on the commission.
"I don't know anything about that," Vavrek said of Hossler's claim that the officers elections were orchestrated. "I know there were people that did want to be chairman. I try not to get involved with that."
Vavrek said he leaves the internal functioning of town boards and commissions up to its membership. Because Hossler is Unaffiliated, the first selectman said he expects to appoint another Unaffiliated volunteer to the EDC.
"I don't play politics with this," Vavrek said. "I could care less about politics with this."
The first selectman says he holds no grudges and, if Hossler decides to run for another board or commission, Vavrek would welcome him back.
"It's unfortunate he feels that way," he said of Hossler's reasons to resign. "He's done a great job for the commission."
Hossler said he wishes the EDC well.