Editorial / After undue delay, we finally have a town executive
Published 6:06 pm, Thursday, June 9, 2011
After weeks of childish stalling by Republicans, Fairfield finally woke up this morning with a first selectman who will shepherd the town through the November municipal elections.
In keeping with state law, the town's leading Democrats Thursday evening voted to make Michael Tetreau interim first selectman, replacing Ken Flatto, who resigned in May to become state Commissioner of Special Revenue.
That the Democrat Tetreau would occupy the first selectmen's suite for the next five months never was in much doubt. The rules are simple: Flatto was a Democrat, so his party retains the office until November. For Democrats, the choice was simple: Tetreau had said he'd likely run for a full term in the fall.
Tetreau has served on the finance board and is no stranger to town hall. Still, that he was distasteful to Republicans was no surprise; the GOP rightly believes he'll have a significant advantage in November with five months of on-the-job training under his belt.
But his appointment was inevitable -- through one process or another. In most communities in similar situations, the minority selectman chooses pragmatism over pettiness and -- holding his nose if need be -- votes with the majority and moves on.
But Walsh, who ironically was named to his seat in similar fashion when the majority shoe was on the other foot, instead held out.
That forced Thursday night's vote by a panel of Democrats -- a process so rare that state elections officials don't know if it's ever been used before in Connecticut.
If the Republicans strategy was to limit by a few weeks their likely November opponent's tenure in the job, they've succeeded. But they've also succeeded in looking implacable and petulant.
Cooling his heels backstage for a month, Tetreau certainly has had time to jot down a "to do" list.
But in case he hasn't, here are a few things he can start with:
1. Get the delayed Penfield Beach pavilion expansion completed and the facility open to beachgoers to use it next month.
2. Closely monitor preparations for the new train station to open in the fall, keeping a close eye out for last minute glitches.
3. Continue the first selectman's role in improving pedestrian access downtown.
4. Try to bring Exide Group Inc. and state environmental officials together on a remediation plan for the former battery-plant brownfield on Post Road. The property has enormous potential.
5. In the wake of the bruising school budget battle that goes to a referendum Tuesday, set a tone of reconciliation, mutual respect and common goals moving forward.