Kupchick sworn in as Fairfield’s First Selectwoman
FAIRFIELD — Thirty newly-elected town officials, including First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick, were sworn in Monday night.
Kupchick, a Republican, was the star of the show as former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays swore her into the chief executive position she won from eight-year incumbent Democrat Mike Tetreau on Nov. 5.
It was a landslide victory for Kupchick, who ran on a platform of restoring trust and accountability after the fill pile scandal that rocked the town this summer.
“Tonight, we begin the process of restoring faith, integrity and honor in our town government,” Kupchick said at Monday’s swearing-in ceremony. “The voters made clear on November 5th that they believe in progress over politics.”
On the campaign trail, Kupchick promised to do better than Tetreau, who came under fire for his handling of the ongoing criminal case that has charged two town employees with allowing Julian Enterprises to dump truck loads of contaminated waste into the town’s Public Works pile.
Julian then resold some of the contaminated soil as clean fill for construction projects in the town. After testing 60 sites at parks, fields and playgrounds, the town identified seven areas that need to be cleaned up, a million-dollar process.
“Fairfield is strong and resilient because of the people who make up our community,” Kupchick said. “And because of this strength, I know we are ready for the work ahead. Through our shared commitment, better days lie ahead.”
In addition to getting a handle on the fill pile situation, Kupchick has said her first priorities in office will include preparing for budget season, tightening contract practices, auditing town departments and bringing bipartisan respect back to town bodies.
She spoke about this desire to restore bipartisanship at Monday’s swearing-in, saying the online political rancor must stop.
“As we move forward, let us renew our commitment to civility in our political discourse,” Kupchick said. “Instead of talking at each other through social media, we will begin the process of talking to one another face to face. A tweet or a Facebook post should never replace looking someone in the eye... Tonight, we will start working together.”
The co-chairs of Kupchick’s transition team, former state Sen. John McKinney and current state Rep. Laura Devlin, served as co-masters of ceremonies Monday evening.
After some initial programming, including a performance from the Fairfield Warde High School jazz ensemble, Town Clerk Betsy Browne administered the Oath of Office to all other elected town officials, both incumbent and newly-elected.
29 were sworn into newly-won offices, including new Selectmen Tom Flynn (R) and Nancy Lefkowitz (D), Board of Finance members Jack Testani (R) and Lori Charlton (D) and Board of Education member Bonnie Rotelli (R).
14 new representatives joined the RTM: Ed Bateson (R-1), Jeff Steele (R-2), Karen McCormack (R-2), Scott Nickel (D-3), Laura Karson (D-4), Meredith Odinak (D-4), Julie Gottlieb (D-5), Tameisha Powell-Dunmore (D-6), Hank Ference (R-8), Bill Perugini (R-9), Crissy Kelly (R-9), Elizabeth Altobelli (R-10), Marisa Ringel (R-10) and Janine Alianiello (R-10).
The election did not flip party majorities on any of these main town boards. The Boards of Selectmen and Finance remain Republican-controlled, while the Board of Education and Representative Town Meeting kept their Democratic majorities.
The Town Plan and Zoning Commission also gained Lenny Braman (D) and Kathy Braun (R), while Jane Gitlin Nishball (D) and Katie O’Grady (R) joined the Zoning Board of Appeals. Peter Ruppert (D) and Alexis Harrison (R) were sworn onto the Board of Assessment Appeals.
Roger Autuori (R), Bill Perugini (R), Joe Peddle (R) and Michael Herley (R) were also sworn in as constables.
In anticipation of Monday’s swearing-in, Kupchick resigned from the state legislature on Friday, Nov. 22 after nine years representing the 132nd district.
The governor is now charged with declaring a special election to choose Kupchick’s successor for the seat. The election will likely be held in January 2020.
The Democratic Town Committee endorsed Jennifer Leeper as their nominee Tuesday night, and the Republican Town Committee has called a special meeting to vote for their nominee on Dec. 2.