It's official: Tetreau takes reins as first selectman
Michael Tetreau was the second person to arrive at Sullivan-Independence Hall on Friday morning -- the town's newly minted "interim" first selectman didn't have the building's alarm code so he said he couldn't be the first one at work -- but he already had a day full of appointments scheduled.
But first on the list was a formal swearing-in ceremony with family, friends and many municipal department heads in attendance.
Tetreau, a Democratic Board of Finance member who now serves as interim first selectman until the November general election, was selected Thursday night when 17 Democrats -- Representative Town Meeting member Joseph Gall was absent -- convened under a rarely used state election law to fill the job vacated when Kenneth Flatto resigned in May to take a job in the Malloy administration, and Democrat Sherri Steeneck and fellow Selectman James Walsh, a Republican, could not agree on a replacement. Steeneck was adamant the interim official be Tetreau, who had been endorsed unanimously by the Democratic Town Committee, while Walsh was just as adamant that it not be Tetreau, since he also plans to run for the office in November.
"I have received lots and lots of emails since last night," Tetreau said Friday, and one, from a John Sullivan, gave him pause, until he saw it was not the now-deceased First Selectman John J. Sullivan, but a high school classmate by the same name. He said he also got emails from his brother Bill, currently serving with the Army in Afghanistan, and high school football teammate Dave Seres.
Seres, he said, made sure to rub in Tetreau's flubbed catch when Steeneck tossed him the keys to Independence Hall following Thursday's vote. Tertreau said Seres "reminded me that he caught every pass that I threw at him."
The 59-year-old Fairfield native said his top priority is to get up to speed "and make sure I don't drop any balls."
Among those top concerns, the interim official said, include the completion of the town's third train station, contracts with municipal employee unions and a July meeting with the bond rating agencies.
Tetreau also said he'll meet with town department heads to decide how best to deal with any budget reductions for the new fiscal year by the Board of Finance and the Representative Town Meeting.
Fairfield, he said, is a great community and one that he took for granted growing up here. After moving away and then returning, Tetreau said, "I appreciate more than ever how much opportunity Fairfield gave to me ... I know full well how much I owe this town and the people, how much I owe the friends who have placed this trust in me. I am ready to get started paying you and the town back."
RTM Minority Leader Cristin McCarthy Vahey, who will be Tetreau's running mate in the fall campaign, put his name into nomination at the convention of elected Democratic office holders.
"Mike is an experienced leader in both business and in the realm of public service," Vahey said of the realty agent. "His experience will allow him to hit the ground running and get right to work." Tetreau, she added, is "committed to collaboration and communication."
In reference to the Board of Selectmen's stalemate on making the interim appointment, Vahey said, "Let's not delay this vote any longer so that Mike can get to work, doing what he is ready to do -- lead Fairfield."
After the vote, Tetreau thanked Steeneck for her 40 days as acting first selectman. "Sherri put her life on hold, literally, on a week-to-week basis, but taking on every task as if it was her full-time job."