For a 30-second event, Fairfield sure knows how to stretch it to 90 minutes. With all the small town pageantry and schmaltz, the town’s elected officials took the oath of office last night.
The Mill River Band, a surprisingly entertaining folk/country group, performed during the first thirty minutes as people filled the middle school auditorium. As we took our seats, I introduced Deb to some people and we sat back to enjoy the music. Sue Barrett, from District 8, handed every District 8 official a red rose buttoneer, which pleased Deb no end, since she insisted I actually wear a sports jacket to the event. Good thing I did. Others, including several I’ve never seen in anything more formal than jeans, turned up in jackets and ties.
By 7:30, the real work began. A local Reverend and Rabbi hosted as Masters of Ceremony. They introduced the color guard and representatives from the Fire and Police departments marched down the aisles, carrying their flags, axes and rifles. One of the Girl Scout troops then took the stage to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance. They were followed by a high school female acappella group who sang the “Star Spangled-Banner.
Our elected Selectmen were due next but here’s where politics came into play. When Jack Stone lost the race for First Selectman, he was elected to Selectman. He declined the post, preferring to keep his State seat as a Representative. This left the job of filling the spot to our First Selectman, Ken Flatto. Everyone’s been pushing for Ken to pick Stone’s running mate, Steve Elworthy, to fill the spot. Steve had been Selectman last term so the notion of continuity was very appealing. Ken had not decided by yesterday so only his running mate, Denise Dougiello, took the oath as administered by State Comptroller Nancy Wyman.
Our Town Clerk, Betsy Browne, was sworn in next by local judge Dan Caruso and then she took over, swearing in each department or committee, from Board of Ed to Constable. Then, finally, each RTM district was called up to take the oath. All five of us stood there, looking pretty sharp with our roses if I do say so, and said, “I do.” Later, Betsy admitted to me she was sorely tempted to raise her right hand and then splay her fingers in the Vulcan salute in my honor but chickened out. I told her she should have so we agreed, next term, if there is one, we’d do that.
A soloist gave us the seventh inning stretch by singing the complete version of “God Bless America” a song I have truly grown tired of for numerous reasons.
State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal then swore in Ken, who gave a very nice little speech and we stood and applauded. I do like that Blumenthal took time to acknowledge the Fire and Police staff as well as any veterans in the audience, who all served us in different ways. Additionally, a recurring theme was tough it was on the local level, being in the trenches and dealing with the people in ways those at the State and Federal level can’t hope to match. Also, our spouses and families were acknowledged for supporting our efforts even though it meant we’d be out late at night throughout the year.
There was then a cookies and cider reception in the cafeteria and so the mingling began. Our DTC chairman grumbled that some of the newly elected young Republicans refused to applaud when Ken took the oath. Several others noted these new RTM members are younger and could make things very partisan when, at the local level, it doesn’t need to be.
Next week we have our first meeting. It’ll be largely organizational as the Committee on Committees establishes which members will serve on which of the five committees. Our Majority Leader requested our preferences a few weeks back and I indicated a desire to move from Finance to Education & Recreation. Then I got a call from the Finance Chair asking if I would serve as her Vice Chair. I was pleased at being asked and accepted. Deb warned Pat, though, that I am horrible with numbers. The town may be doomed.
I am now an official card carrying member of the RTM, a duly elected official and with any luck, will actually do some good for the town.