Submitted by Dan Quigley
When one gets “involved” in town government, and in a broader sense town politics, it inevitably opens the door to new relationships. During my time in the RTM and the RTC, I’ve been lucky to meet so many interesting and decent people whose paths I may likely never have crossed otherwise. Two, in particular, stand out.
I first met Fred Camillo at CfCf Coffee House on the Avenue in May of 2019. I was thinking of running for Selectman, and wanted to discuss my idea with Fred, who at the time was the State Rep in the 151st. Fred had on his Nationals baseball cap, so being a Mets fan, this naturally triggered an immediate conversation about baseball, not politics. As a matter of fact, we didn’t discuss politics until the very end of our meeting. We talked about sports, life, our families and our shared love of baseball and history.
Upon returning home from the meeting, my wife asked me how it went. I remember exactly what I told her. I said; “I just met the most honest and humble politician in America.” Fred and I talked like we were long lost friends. No political intrigue, no gossip. Just a refreshingly real conversation. Fred was an open book, proud of his roots, frank about the road he took to get to where he was and totally without ego. He was as comfortable in his own skin as someone could be, and I liked him instantly for it.
About one month later, I was back at CfCf to interview with Lauren Rabin about the Selectman nomination. She was an RTC Officer and Board of Ed member. We sat in the back, and Lauren had a notebook and was right on time. As I have come to know, Lauren is always prepared. We talked for 90minutes (my longest meeting with anyone during that process) and Lauren asked me lots of insightful questions. All the while she took notes on her pad. As we finished our coffee’s we began to chat about all sorts of topics, from the town, our commonalities and our families.
Little did I know at the time, but a few weeks after that interview, Lauren made her decision to run for Selectman. I found out when Lauren called me. She told me she wanted to call me personally, because she really enjoyed our conversation and wanted me to hear it from her directly. I knew at that moment that my candidacy was doomed, but my spirits were soon buoyed when Lauren called me again to ask me (a newcomer) to manage her campaign. Of course, I accepted.
I am sharing these two first encounters with you because both experiences speak volumes about Fred and Lauren as people. They are down to earth, hardworking, decent and honest. They have no airs about them, and it is with great pride that I have watched as Fred and Lauren have led our community through the extraordinary challenges of the past 18months. This was no easy task. There was no playbook or precedent. They both did what true leaders do in moments of crises – they rose to the occasion.