First Selectman Vicki Tesoro gave the following speech after taking the oath of office during the Trumbull Swearing-In Ceremony held at Trumbull High School on Tuesday December 3, 2019.
Thank you for coming tonight. Here we are in spite of the obstacles placed in front of us by Mother Nature and I am honored and humbled by the warmth and enthusiasm of your greeting for all of our elected officials.
Thanks to all who helped put this evening together and all of our participants. Thanks to Kathy McGannon, Cindy Katske, and Kathy Champion for all their efforts. Particular thanks to Alicia Altobelli who went above and beyond, as she always does, and who inspires all of us with her dedication to our Community.
Thanks to our award winning band and our outstanding choir for making this occasion even more special.
Please join me in a round of applause for all of them.
A very special thank you to my family, my daughters Laura, Melissa and my future son-in-law Anthony and of course to Tom, my greatest supporter. Thank you for your endless support and encouragement even when I’m sure you want to run away!
I want to thank everyone who stood for election this November. To those being sworn in tonight, especially those who will be sworn in for the first time, we have been given a great honor. To those who ran but fell short, please know that Trumbull is grateful for your willingness to step forward.
Standing for election is no easy thing. You sacrifice your time and put in great effort. Your supportive families are impacted too. However, this very difficult undertaking is essential to our Democracy. The battle of ideas makes our nation great. So, whether you were elected or not, our Community owes you a debt of gratitude. Your willingness to participate in the ongoing American experiment reinforces the very principles upon which our nation was founded.
I won’t repeat all the introductions made by our outstanding host, Dave Galla. Thank you Dave for emceeing this evening and for all that do for our community. Please join me in a round of applause for Dave.
Many of the First Selectmen who preceded me are here tonight. I thank them for all they did for Trumbull. We would not be the great community we are without their efforts. I once again pledge to do my best to honor their legacy.
The election is over and I understand there may be hard feelings that linger. We must get past that and unite for the greater good of our Community. In the end, we are all neighbors who have a common purpose, the continuing prosperity of our Community. We will prosper if we work together, with an attitude of respect and compromise. I intend to do just that.
I said this in 2017 and it bears repeating tonight. We must be guided by the words of President John F. Kennedy when he said:
Let us not seek out the Republican answer or the Democratic answer but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix blame for the past. Let us accept our responsibility for the future.
Powerful words but they are just words unless accompanied by corresponding action.
And we took action over the last two years:
We proved that we can balance the needs of the Community with civility and compassion.
We proved that we can create an economic climate attractive to business.
We proved that we can work together with Republicans, Democrats and Unaffiliated voters for the betterment of Trumbull.
We proved that we are willing to invest in education, public safety, senior services, and infrastructure while keeping taxes stable.
I am proud that over the last two years we have come a long way to restoring respect and a sense of community to our politics but there is more work to be done.
We will continue to act consistent with the principles we espoused in 2017 and in this election.
In that spirit I will ask the Town Council to return to seven voting districts. This will mean more polling places making it easier for our Citizens to vote. It will mean smaller districts bringing Town Council Representatives closer to their constituents. It will also mean stronger minority representation. This is the hard part.
With a 16 to 5 super-majority on the Town Council, it would be easy for us to take no action on changing the Voting Districts. However, we ran on a platform that called for balance. If we return to 7 Districts, it will mean that no party can have more than 14 seats on the Town Council. In other words I am asking that our party give up two seats in the 2021 election.
It is a difficult thing to ask, but it is the right thing to pursue, so I respectfully ask all our Town Council members to join me in returning to 7 Voting Districts.
I will also ask the Town Council to reopen the Town Charter. As part of that review I will recommend that the Board of Education be returned, from the current 7 seats, to 6 seats with staggered 4 year terms, and with no Party holding more than 3 seats. This will promote compromise and bipartisanship. That is good for our Community.
Currently the Democratic Party holds a 5 to 2 majority on the Board of Education. Once again, I am asking that we willingly give up seats in the 2021 election for the greater good of our Community. It is a hard thing to ask, but it is the right thing to do.
I will also ask that the Charter Revision Commission consider term limits where the law allows. It is important that we inject fresh perspectives into our Boards and Commissions. That is how I approached appointments during my first term and I will continue to do so in my second term. Creating balance between experience and new people.
Other areas I will make a priority are:
Asking the Planning & Zoning Commission to extend the moratorium on new multi-family apartment developments for another year. The first apartments constructed under the June 2017 zone change are coming online in the near future. We still need time to assess the impact these apartments will have so we can plan accordingly. Please remember Trumbull has always been a welcoming community. We all benefit from strategic and responsible development.
I will ask that the pool and senior center committees complete their work. I make this pledge to you tonight. Nothing will be built without a referendum on these subjects.
I will continue to fight for our share of State aid, and continue to promote economic development that generates significant revenue while maintaining and enhancing the character of our Town.
Finally, our taxes must remain stable. We cannot prosper if our taxes soar. So tonight I call upon the Board of Education and the Department heads of the Town to submit lean budgets that recognize that while there are many things we would like to do, we must make sure that Trumbull is affordable for residents and businesses alike.
We face challenges ahead. The next two years will not be easy, they never are. I am confident that the elected officials on this stage are equal to the task because they share with me the belief that challenges are not obstacles but opportunities. Let’s make the most of those opportunities.
So let’s celebrate tonight. The hard work has already begun and let’s go after it with energy and enthusiasm. Let’s take the example from our State Champion Girls’ volleyball team. Working hard together for a common goal yields great results.
We are better together and together we will make this great community even better!
Thank you very much!