John Toner sworn in as selectman

Photo of Robert Marchant

John Toner was sworn in Wednesday as a member of the Board of Selectmen, filling a vacancy created by the death of David Theis last month.

Toner was serving on the Representative Town Meeting and is a longtime volunteer in the community. He is retired from a career in banking.

"It's a distinct honor," said Toner, after he took the oath of office during a morning ceremony.

First Selectman Peter Tesei called Toner a natural fit for the board.

"John is deeply rooted in our community through years of volunteer service and he understands our government," Tesei said. "I have confidence he will be a constructive member of the board, in the tradition of Dave Theis."

In addition to serving on the RTM, Toner was on the board of trustees at Greenwich Hospital and a volunteer with other civic and charitable groups in the community. Active in Republican political circles, Toner helped candidates run their campaigns and worked as a party treasurer.

Toner will fill out the remainder of Theis' term; the seat will be up for election in November. By law, the seat had to be filled by a member of Theis' party.

A number of well-wishers attended the swearing-in ceremony, including a friend and in-law, Jonathan Schmitz.

"He's always been a very thoughtful person. He doesn't label people. It's refreshing, especially in this era of gridlock. I think he'll be well received," Schmitz said.

Democratic Selectman Drew Marzullo said the board had a full load of town business this year and Toner will have a lot of work ahead of him, citing the proposed construction of a new school in the west end of town, another fire station, potential changes to the Town Charter, traffic issues and harbor management.

"I do know for certainty in the not-so-distant future that the new makeup of this board will encounter important issues that will require at times hard decisions," Marzullo said, "While there is no replacing Dave Theis as selectman, Peter and I both endeavored to find a person who shares many of the qualities Dave embodied. It is my hope that the majority of interested people will agree that our decision today appointing John is a good one."

Toner, 68, said he did not have any immediate goals or priorities.

"It's too soon. I'm going to take my lead from Peter and Drew," he said.

Tesei said the community "had an abundance of people who are willing to give of their time and talent," and a number of qualified applicants were reviewed.

The new selectman will receive a stipend calculated at 10 percent of the first selectman's salary, meaning about $12,000.