WATERTOWN — One of the three people who was going to be interviewed for the vacant City Council seat has taken himself out of the running.
Thomas J. Penn said Wednesday morning that he was withdrawing his name from consideration.
“It’s very unfortunate. The interest is there,” he said. “But it’s not the right time.”
Earlier in the day, Mr. Penn said he was having second thoughts about the vacant seat, but he had concerns about how it would impact his job as a sales account executive at Spectrum.
Less than an hour later, he called to say that he decided he would not remain in the running to replace former Councilman Jesse C.P. Roshia, who resigned Jan. 31.
With Mr. Penn’s departure, it apparently leaves Amy Horton and Benjamin Shoen as the only remaining candidates. Neither of them returned a reporter’s phone calls Wednesday.
Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith and Councilwomen Sarah V. Compo and Lisa A. Ruggiero said they had not heard Mr. Penn was withdrawing his name for consideration. They said they had not talked to Mr. Penn.
Mayor Smith said he’s going under the assumption that Mr. Penn and the other two candidates would be interviewed and would not think otherwise until Mr. Penn tells him of his plans to withdraw,
If there are only the other two candidates, plans would proceed to interview Ms. Horton and Mr. Shoen on Saturday, the mayor said. He would only add interviews with other candidates if they could receive the support from three council members.
After hearing the news about Mr. Penn, Councilwoman Ruggiero insisted that both former council candidate Patrick Hickey and Katharine E. Kimball, whom she and Councilman Ryan Henry-Wilkinson supported for interviews, should now be considered.
They, too, should be interviewed since the pool of candidates is now down to two from the 11 who expressed interest in the vacancy, she said.
“It’s very frustrating,” she said. “It really is.”
The process to find a replacement for Mr. Roshia, a political ally of the mayor, has become marred in controversy that centers on which candidates should receive interviews.
To avoid a 2-2 vote that would result in no appointment, Mayor Smith maintains that candidates need to have a consensus of council before they should be interviewed.
Councilwoman Ruggiero said she’s been receiving phone calls and text messages from constituents wondering whether she and Councilman Henry-Wilkinson are having a say in the appointment.
On Tuesday, Mayor Smith had to clarify how he knew Ms. Horton. Besides living across the street for a number of years and teaching a Zumba class to his wife, he acknowledged that Ms. Horton watched his children on occasion many years ago.
Mr. Penn, who knows Councilwoman Compo, said he remains interested in serving on council in the future. Ms. Horton is an account executive with ABC-50 and Mr. Shoen owns a contracting business.
The people who had expressed interest and won’t be interviewed are: Donnie Lee Barrigar, Calvin Stanley, Jason Traynor, Douglas R. Rice, Glenn Curry and Lance Hale.
Mr. Rice bowed out earlier this week after he was charged by city police over the weekend with acting in a manner injurious to a child under the age of 17 and second-degree harassment.
It’s alleged that at his residence, he slapped a 10-year-old child across the face with an open hand, leaving a red mark and bruising.
The new council member would have to run for election in November. If the appointee wins in November, they will serve the remainder of Councilman Roshia’s term.
Council members Ruggiero and Henry-Wilkinson also are up for four-year terms.