Selectmen pledge to work together at swearing-in

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The returning members of the Board of Selectmen, from left, Selectman David Theis, First Selectman Peter Tesei and Selectman Drew Marzullo, posed together after the ceremony.
— John Ferris Robben photo

It was a time to celebrate past accomplishments and plan for future challenges as the Greenwich Board of Selectmen was formally sworn in for its new two-year term on Sunday.

The participants needed no introduction, though, as the three board members enjoy strong popularity in town and have already served together for four years. Before a packed Town Hall meeting room, First Selectman Peter Tesei took the oath of office for his fourth term and Selectmen David Theis and Drew Marzullo were sworn in for their third terms. The room was filled with their families, friends, town officials and employees, and many supporters, including a contingent of past first selectmen, Rebecca Breed, Roger Pearson, John Margenot, and Richard Bergstresser.

In his speech, Mr. Tesei thanked everyone for their support during his time in office and said he was “humbled and thankful” that the citizens had put their trust in him.

“Often people say to me, ‘You have such a difficult job,’ and I reply, ‘Are you serious?’” Mr. Tesei said. “Serving as first selectman is a privilege because Greenwich’s diverse population provides wonderful opportunities to engage and appreciate society’s varied perspectives. Our citizens are passionate, involved and care about giving back to their community. Our citizens chose to live in Greenwich because they enjoy the quality of life our community offers, and as public servants, we work diligently with many citizen volunteers to maintain and enhance. Putting Greenwich first is more than just a slogan. It is what we do with and for our citizens and what we will continue to do for the next two years.”

During his remarks, Mr. Tesei said that the results of last month’s election gave

Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei was sworn in for a fourth term by former First Selectman Rebecca Breed, whom he has credited with helping inspire his interest in government. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei was sworn in for a fourth term by former First Selectman Rebecca Breed, whom he has credited with helping inspire his interest in government.
— John Ferris Robben photo

him a “mandate to govern” and was an affirmation of the course and manner of the past six years of his leadership. He pledged to “retain our beloved Greenwich as a premier residential community” through life safety, education and investment in infrastructure through the town’s 15-year capital improvement plan. He also promised to continue modest and predictable levels in taxation and “protect our interests from ever-pressing federal and state government mandates and schemes that undermine local autonomy.”

Mr. Tesei was sworn in by Ms. Breed, his mentor in town politics. She said he was someone that “everyone in town looks up to with great admiration and pride.”

Saying he had “the best job in Town Hall,” Mr. Theis said that over the next two years he would continue to practice fiscal discipline for town government.

“We must live within our means as we have to in our personal lives,” Mr. Theis said. “Public safety, education and caring for our senior citizens are important and will not be compromised, but we need to continue to prioritize our spending and live within our means before taking on any additional debt. Right now we have three big-ticket items we need to complete, MISA, the Central Fire Station and Project Renew at Nathaniel Witherell. Interest rates are low, but this may be the new norm, and I suggest we finish these three projects before we take on any more debt.”

Mr. Marzullo pledged to continue to be there for everyone in town.

“A little over four years ago, voters took a chance on a rather unknown, unfamiliar candidate and granted me an opportunity to serve this great town,” Mr. Marzullo said. “With that opportunity, it came with it a privilege to participate amongst many capable, well-intended people trying to do some good. As a selectman I have been given this amazing stage, a great vehicle to have a voice to express my point of view, which even if you don’t agree with it, I hope you would agree there is good intent.”

Mr. Marzullo noted that the state was approaching the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown and said he would continue to fight for issues like gun control on the federal level. He also pledged to keep focusing on issues like bullying in Greenwich’s schools, noting the ongoing town investigation into the suicide of 15-year-old Greenwich High School student Bart Palosz, who was reportedly relentlessly bullied at both the middle school and high school levels.

Mr. Marzullo was sworn in by friend Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who said it was an honor to do it and congratulated Mr. Tesei and Mr. Theis on their wins as well. Mr. Marzullo said it was an honor to be sworn in by someone who, “independent of political party, is well loved, respected and admired.”

A theme throughout the ceremony was the importance of working together. Mr. Tesei and Mr. Theis are Republicans and Mr. Marzullo is a Democrat and none of them have been shy about their political beliefs over the years. However, the board has also managed to work well together, with each member praising the other two for their dedication to the town.

“We must continue to maintain civility and respect for each other, as this is at the foundation of our society,” Mr. Tesei said.

Mr. Theis was sworn in by New York Superior Court Judge William Giacomo, a childhood friend from Greenwich and a Democrat. Mr. Theis, president of the Cos Cob Republican Club and a former Republican Town Committee officer, even helped him on his campaigns, and he said it was important to have those bridges between the political parties.

“Though Bill and I are members of different parties, I wanted to illustrate my personal belief that we should find ways to work across the aisle,” Mr. Theis said. “I think we will find that our differences are not that great as long as we’re willing to communicate.”

Mr. Theis added that the board has a “special chemistry” that works well and that he was proud to serve with Mr. Tesei and Mr. Marzullo.

“This is what the residents of Greenwich want, expect and deserve from the town’s leadership,” Mr. Theis said.

Mr. Marzullo said, “The minority that I represent is a strong one and a vocal one. When necessary, I will continue to provide a different perspective and a different point of view, doing so not because I can but because something is worth fighting for. This notion that just because you get along with someone on the other side of the political aisle somehow makes you weak isn’t something I accept. I will never accept it and I hope I’ve been an example on that. I congratulate my colleagues on their wins. I know we will continue a relationship that is built on respect, and I look forward to important discussions on town finances, borrowing and spending models, capital projects, and Dave and Peter’s favorite topic, harbor management.”

The Rev. Christopher Tate, from the Second Congregational Church in Greenwich, performed several patriotic songs during the event and also delivered the invocation, asking for help in making sure everyone in town could work together.

“Help us all as good citizens to respect neighbors whose views differ from others so without partisan anger we may work out issues that divide us and do our part to serve and promote the common welfare of all,” Mr. Tate said.

In the crowd were several department heads, including Chief of Police James Heavey and fire Chief Peter Siecienski. United Nations Ambassador Joseph Verner Reed, a longtime town resident, also came for the ceremony, and the selectmen were greeted by the Greenwich Police Department’s Honor Guard. While U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a town resident, was unable to make it, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th), of Cos Cob was there, as were state Sen. L. Scott Frantz (R-36th) and state Reps. Livvy Floren (R-149th) and Stephen Walko (R-150th).

Town Clerk Carmella Budkins, serving as mistress of ceremonies for the event, said the town was looking forward to two more years of this team in office.

“I want to think our Board of Selectmen for everything you have done for the town of Greenwich and for its citizens and thank you for the future work and keeping the quality of life that you have given us,” Ms. Budkins said.

 

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