First Peek at the New RTM: BOC Elects New Officers

The November municipal elections included races for the Representative Town Meeting, a historically bi-partisan group where candidates are not identified by their party on the ballot.

Traditionally the races were not known for being competitive. In fact, often times there were vacant slots on the 230-member body.

Those days may be over.

In the Nov 7 election, there were so many choices that voters had to do extra homework to make an informed vote.

With that in mind, a group calling themselves the Bi-Partisan Coalition circulated a slate. Shortly after, a second slate, labeled the “Bipartisan Coalition for Good Governance,” were endorsed by the Republican Town Committee.

At the end of the day the Bi-Partisan Coalition, organized by James Waters, Dan Quigley and the Voting Moms, prevailed in a big way, with the exception of District 10.

RTM Budget Overview Committee election of officers. Jan 4, 2024

With that said, on Thursday night the newly constituted Budget Overview Committee held their first meeting, and the first order of business was to elect new officers, starting with chair, given that Ms Jansen won a seat on the town’s Board of Estimate and Taxation and had moved on.

In the Mazza Room at Town Hall, the committee heard from two nominees: James Waters and Jane Sprung.

RTM Moderator Alexis Voulgaris oversaw the election of the chair.

Members introduced themselves before the vote. Only delegates (not alternates) voted.

Ms Voulgaris noted that the chair and vice chair were required to be delegates (not alternates), but an alternate could serve as secretary.

RTM Moderator Alexis Voulgaris, Miriam Kreuzer and James Waters at the RTM Budget Overview Committee’s election of officers. Jan 4, 2024

Each candidate had 3 minutes to share comments about why they’d like to serve. Ms Voulgaris explained that in the election, members would not direct questions toward the candidates.

Christine Edwards nominated Mr. Waters from district 12. Bill Galvin seconded the nomination.

Carol Zarrilli nominated Ms Sprung from district 10. Pam Fontana seconded the nomination.

Ms Sprung said she’d lived in town over 20 years and raised her family in town. She said her children were college age and the timing was right for her to serve in the volunteer position.

Carol Zarrilli, Jane Srung and Rosalind Nicastro at the RTM Budget Overview Committee election of officers. Jan 4, 2024

“Prior to moving to Greenwich, I have 10 years of experience in finance, starting at Solomon Brothers in Equity Research, and City Bank. And then followed up with an MBA from Wharton,” she said.

“I’m eager chair because I believe I have the financial skills. I am also very organized and I have time to serve,” she added.

Ms Sprung noted she had just been re-elected as chair of District 10.

Aside from the RTM Sprung said she had served on the board of of the Round Hill Association for the past five years, focusing on back country issues – in particular raising money for he volunteer fire station, in addition to fighting off over development in back country – specifically at the former Mel Gibson Estate.

“I feel like I can bring a balanced view and a new perspective our budget process,” she said. “We have a really big job in relation to the budget and making sure there are checks and balances in town.”

Mr. Waters said the districts had put forward some great representatives for the BOC.

“I have even heard one member of the RTM refer to this group as the modern day version of the 1927 Yankees,” he said of the winning team whose lineup consisted of Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri. Those six players were the reason that the 1927 team batted scored nearly 1,000 runs and outscored their opponents by a record 376.

“I’m running for the chair of the BOC because the town desperately needs a strong and objective voice to help us navigating the challenging budget issues on the horizon.”

Waters, who has served on the BOC for the past two years, said he believed the committee “can and must do better” in fulfilling its duty to taxpayers.

“Many of you know that the RTM has seen increased partisanship in recent years. Committees have been leveraged to advance a particular narrative, often at odds with the rest of the members and town residents more broadly.”

“It’s time for the BOC to adjust its focus and to ensure we’re striking the right balance to ensure responsible stewardship, appropriate transparency and good governance,” Waters continued.

“If elected your chair I’ll serve as an objective and fair leader of this committee. I’ll run tight ship and avoid wasted time and meandering meetings. I’ll run it just like I run the Old Greenwich School building committee,” he said. “As many of you know has become known across town as an exceptional and efficient building committee.”

Waters said rarely do the OGS building committee meetings run more than an hour.

He added that he had extensive experience in government and private sector budgeting.

“As a member of the White House Budget Office staff in the Bush administration, as a Navy Seal officer and currently as chairman of the board of a Connecticut based manufacturer that supplies the US submarine programs, I’ve learned it’s critical to have and strong team and good relationships. Over the past two years I’ve developed strong relationships all across town.”

“A lot of this is about respect,” he said. “We need to hold people accountable, but I think it is important that we treat visitors to our committee and each other with respect.”

“The BOC shouldn’t be known as the Budget Overreach Committee or for pushing one particular narrative,” he added. “I’ll give objective, concise reports to the RTM as I know you will expect. I hope we’ll objectively study topics that need scrutiny like the BET guidelines, the school budget, the oversight of big capital projects like the Hamill Rink, making sure numbers in the 15-year capital plan are real, and provides the services that our constituents want.”

The vote for chair was 8-4 in favor of Mr. Waters.

From there a vote on vice chair saw nominations of Ms Sprung and Daniel Izzo.

Mr. Izzo won 8-4.

Lastly, Aakash Patel from district 1 was nominated for secretary. No one else was nominated and Mr. Patel became secretary by unanimous consent.

RTM Budget Overview Committee election of officers. Jan 4, 2024