Enemy becomes ally as state Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfied, who also is the Senate minority leader, appoints Fairfielder Mitchell Fuchs to the Metro-North New Haven Rail Commuter Council.

Fuchs was McKinney's opponent in the most recent state election, losing to the veteran legislator by a vote of 26,249 to 12,694.

Fuchs, a former Fairfield Democratic Town Committee chairman, is president of Wellesley Corp., a property management company with offices in New York City. He commutes to New York regularly using the Metro-North commuter rail line and has been a committed advocate for reducing traffic congestion in lower Fairfield County. He is a member of the Greater Bridgeport Transit Board, and once gathered 1,400 signatures in four days to petition Gov. M. Jodi Rell for the new rail cars, which now are being built.

The council, consisting of 15 members who regularly use the New Haven or Shoreline East railroad lines, acts as a consumer liaison between commuters and the state Department of Transportation, Metro-North and Shoreline East. The council conducts monthly public meetings and advises the state Legislature on commuter issues. The next meeting will take place on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the South Western Regional Planning Agency's office, 888 Washington Blvd., Stamford.

"As a Fairfield County commuter and public activist," McKinney said, "Mitch will be a valuable addition to the council because he understands the importance of increasing Connecticut's use of mass transportation to reduce the number of cars and trucks on our highways. He shares my view that good transportation policy is also good environmental policy, and one of the best ways to make Connecticut a more attractive place for commerce and new business.

"As Republicans and Democrats, Mitch and I have some natural political differences, but there are still a number of important issues where we share a common philosophy and common goal. Transportation is one of them."

Fuchs said he welcomed the appointment for two reasons. "First, I am looking forward to playing an active role in addressing the state's transportation challenges and, second, this appointment illustrates John McKinney's commitment to work with my party.

"The mission of this council is an important one, as transportation gridlock has been a persistent problem in southwestern Connecticut for decades. I look forward to sharing my ideas and observations with members of the council, rail executives, the DOT, and the Legislature."