Tesei, Toner, Litvack Final BOS Meeting
By Richard Kaufman
As the newly elected Greenwich Board of Selectmen prepares to get sworn-in, the outgoing board is saying its goodbyes.
Last week, First Selectman Peter Tesei, and Selectmen John Toner and Sandy Litvack, held their final meeting of 2019. Each member had a vase of flowers in front of them to commemorate the occasion.
This will be the first time since 1923 that a Board of Selectmen will be made up of entirely new members following an election. First Selectman-elect Fred Camillo, Selectwoman-elect Lauren Rabin and Selectwoman-elect Jill Oberlander will be sworn-in on Dec. 1 at 5 p.m., at the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich.
Tesei, who has served a record six terms as Greenwich’s chief elected official, has worked with three Republican Selectmen, and three Democratic Selectmen, during his tenure. He chose not to run for re-election this fall.
“We have all gotten along with collegiality and mutual respect, and really striving to do what’s right for the citizens in the town,” Tesei said, reflecting on his years in office. “It’s been a real pleasure for me to have the company and partnership of the members of the board. It’s something that stays with you when you work so closely with folks.”
Over the years, Tesei has issued many proclamations to individuals and organizations in town, honoring them for their accomplishments. But at last week’s meeting, Tesei had the chance to recognize his colleagues with proclamations, which he said were “extra special.”
Tesei proclaimed Nov. 15 as Sanford “Sandy” Litvack Day, and Nov. 17 as John Toner Day, in the Town of Greenwich.
Litvack called the recognition “totally unexpected and totally appreciated.”
“I’ve been waiting for my day for a lot of years!” Litvack said, drawing laughs from those in attendance.
Litvack, a Democrat, ran against Tesei in 2017 for First Selectman, and came up just short. He instead joined the Board, and formed a friendship with Tesei and Toner. Litvack said that when he came onto the Board, he was a “stranger” to Greenwich’s municipal government, but he learned a lot from Tesei and Toner.
“For me, it’s been a fascinating, interesting and rewarding experience. I’m so glad I did it,” Litvack said. “I wish Lauren [Rabin] well sitting in this seat. I have no regrets yielding to Lauren who will perform fabulously I’m sure. I’m so much better for having done this.”
Tesei then recognized Toner, who came on to the Board of Selectmen in 2015 following the unexpected passing of Selectman David Theis, in 2014.
“[John] stepped into this position during a very difficult time, and an emotional time, on the sudden passing of the late David Theis,” Tesei remarked. “John Toner had been my campaign chairman for my elections. He did so with a quiet confidence and impact. Because of all of his volunteerism in town, he was able to connect on my behalf and represent my candidacies.”
Tesei thanked Toner “for being a dear friend” to his family.
“Thank you for giving me wisdom at times when I may have lost it, and good judgement when I really needed it. You’ve been a tremendous dear friend to me, and I respect you immensely,” Tesei added.
Litvack then thanked Tesei for his service over the years, and for his friendship.
“You hold the record [for terms served] currently for First Selectman. Someone may top you one of these years,” Litvack said with a laugh. “During my two years, and that’s all I know, you’ve been terrific in every way to me. We’ve had some disagreements, we both have to acknowledge that. But the truth is, we have gotten along a heck of a lot more than we disagreed.”
Tesei then acknowledged the professional staff at Town Hall for their service and help during his tenure in office.
“As elected officials, we come to the positions with delineated responsibilities to administer, lead, initiate, collaborate and build consensus. That’s all been an integral part of what I’ve done these last 12 years. But I didn’t do it alone. I did it with other elected officials and I did it with our professional staff,” Tesei said. “These are people who signed on to do public service. They have my deepest respect and admiration. They really have helped to keep Greenwich a desirable community.”
Tesei specifically mentioned Town Administrator, Ben Branyan, Executive Assistant, Barbara Heins, and the town’s Senior Management Analyst, Blaize Levitan.
As Tesei decelerates out of office, Camillo is accelerating into the position. Tesei noted that he attended a meeting with Camillo and departmental staff last week at Town Hall. Camillo had the chance to meet about 25 departmental heads from across the town. Camillo will have several more meetings leading up to his swearing-in.