Local officials sworn in
In a town election where every incumbent seeking reelection was once again voted into office, the call for strong local leadership was renewed as the latest term began at Monday's inauguration ceremony.
"These jobs ... are the toughest in politics," said Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of local elected officials. "If you're a ... statewide official and they don't like me in Greenwich or Stamford, I can go to Hartford. If they don't like me in Hartford, I can go to Westbrook. If they don't like me in Westbrook I can go elsewhere, but if you're a local official you're in the trenches."
He added, "Especially in a town like Westport, nobody has any hesitancy to call you and give you a piece of their mind."
Blumenthal was on hand to swear in Gordon Joseloff as first selectman, and he praised the "dignity and grace and poise and courage" of the elected officials in town amidst a "time of increasing conflict and diminishing civility."
State Sen. John McKinney, R-28, swore in Gavin Anderson, the republican challenger to Joseloff's seat, as a selectman. McKinney, the senate minority leader, told the audience how there's often a huge sense of cynicism that young people have towards politics, but times are changing.
"There's something special happening to the younger generation," he said. "There is an excitement and enthusiasm about public service. There is a great sense of pride in our country"
The formal proceedings, heavily populated by local officials and their family members, were often light-hearted. A montage created by town clerk Patricia Strauss set photos of Westport to a song created by second-graders about the town they live in was shown to the crowd. At the close of the night, the crowd mingled in the lobby holding snacks and apple cider.
Still, as much as the inauguration was a celebration of Westport and its newly-elected officials, the serious difficulties of the economy were a focus in Joseloff's inauguration speech.
"The economic tsunami that struck Wall Street and many of our major financial institutions has had repercussions on Westport. Almost 20 percent of our residents in one way or another are involved in the finance, banking, real estate and brokerage industries.
He noted that Westport and the rest of Fairfield County is the "economic engine" of Connecticut and that they provide almost half the taxes that end up in Hartford.
"So maintaining a rich and vibrant Westport is not only in our best interest, but the interests of all the citizens of Connecticut," Joseloff said. "It is my job and yours to do the best we can in this regard and we must do it in a bipartisan manner. We are one town."
At the close of his speech, Joseloff held a letter from Isabelle Katz, a Long Lots Elementary second grader, complete with hearts, peace signs and misspellings that wrote "Dear Mayor Gordon. I am so happy you won. Was it worth it? Write back to tell me if it was."
Joseloff plans to write back and tell her that "it certainly was."
"It was because I and all of us taking the oath of office tonight will do our best to make it worth it," he said.