New government for Woodbridge
Woodbridge - The town's newly elected public officials were sworn in Sunday afternoon in a brief ceremony on the steps of Town Hall. As about 100 people gathered to take in the event, Republican Amey Marrella took the oath of office and began her term as First Selectman.
The audience, included out-going First Selectman Roger Harrison and former First Selectman Russell Stoddard. Marrella, who handily defeated Democrat Susan Jacobs in the May 7th municipal election, is the first Republican to serve as First Selectman since Stoddard stepped down from that post in 1991.
United States Circuit Judge Ralph K. Winter, who administered the oath of office, spoke of the seeming simplicity of the event taking place on the steps of the government building. He contrasted the casual way it is taken for granted with the reminder that so many around the world long for the right of self-government and have yet to achieve this basic freedom.
In her remarks, Marrella referred to the unusual timing of the town's traditional spring elections, noting that voting in May allows officials to begin their terms in office while the country is celebrating the 4th of July. She referenced the town's incorporation in 1784 and the proud New England tradition of the Selectmen/Town Meeting form of government.
Marrella also spoke of the "privilege and duty of self-government" and said she was looking forward to working with all the elected and appointed officials in Woodbridge, "to serve not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of our community."
As the crowd of both young and old looked on, Bethany and Grace Menzies performed The Star Spangled Banner and later, at the close of the ceremony, had the audience join in singing God Bless America.
Also participating in the ceremony were three of the four recently re-elected members of the Board of Selectmen; Joseph Calistro, Edward Sheehy and Chris Sorensen, along with newly elected selectman Steve Bortner. Judith Schwartz was also re-elected to her position as Selectman in the May elections.
Judge Winter then administered the oath of office to the five new Woodbridge Board of Education members; Debbie Pines, Jonathan Lecker, Clotilde Dudley Smith, Bunny Yesner and Gary Desir. They join continuing WBOE members Bonna Green, James Carolan, Eleanor Sheehy and Marianne Vahey.
The swearing-in of new members of the Amity Board of Education, Ken Downey and Rita Gadanski, rounded out the proceedings.
The town of Woodbridge will also soon assimilate more newly appointed officials at both the elementary and regional high school level. The outgoing WBOE extended offers to two new Principals this past Thursday evening, culminating a nearly year-long search process. Kathleen Steadman, a current administrator in the Bloomfield school system, will head Beecher Road School's PreK to Grade 2 Primary School, while Kathleen Peters-Durrigan, a current administrator in the Stamford school system, will run the Intermediate School Grades 3 to 6. Meanwhile, the Amity Board of Education is set to announce its new High School Principal.
New WBOE member Bunny Yesner said she was enthusiastic about the new faces at the helm of Beecher Road School, and is looking forward to working with the new principals to open lines of communication between the school board and both parents and towns people. Her new colleague on the Board, Debbie Pines is hopeful that while everyone may not always agree on every issue, new board members can bring a fresh perspective and contribute positively to the decision making process at Beecher.
During her speech, Marrella paid tribute to the many towns people who will take part in the governance of Woodbridge by serving on appointed boards and commissions, noting that crucial positions on the Board of Finance and Town Planning and Zoning Commission had been named just two days earlier.
Reached for comment, Republican Town Committee Chairman Donald Cellatto reported the following new appointees; Leonard Bell (U) and Douglas Ross (R - former member of the WBOE), were named to the BOF, along with Gregory Egnasiak who was re-appointed. They join sitting members Genie Schwartz , Melvin Stoltz and Chairman Matthew Giglietti.
Norman Fineberg, a former chair of TPZ, has been appointed to this commission once again, along with Joseph Palmeri, a former alternate. Donald Cellatto, himself a former elected member of the ZBA, will also now sit on the appointed TPZ, along with Michael Broderick (D).
Joanne M. D'Angelo, who was elected to the ZBA in May, was asked by Marrella to be Town Council, and will step down from the ZBA to accept this position.
Town Administrative Officer Joe Hellauer had the town running in synch with Mother Nature, if not wrist watches, as he made good on his promise to fit the ceremony in before the heavy rains forecast to hit the area arrived. The participants and well-wishers were then ushered inside Town Hall for some old-fashioned lemon-aid and sweets.