Last week the DTC nominated a relative newcomer to local politics, Cheryl Trepp Moss, in a surprising upset over eight-year Board of Education member Jennifer Dayton, who also hoped to be the Democratic candidate for the 151st Assembly District of the Connecticut House of Representatives.
The vote was 16-9.
The opening was created when Fred Camillo, who held the post for 11 years, was elected Greenwich’s First Selectman.
On Dec 1 Camillo was sworn in. On Dec 2 he officially resigned as State Rep.
On Dec 6 Governor Ned Lamont set Jan 21, 2020 as the date for a special election to fill the vacancy.
Under state law, the governor is required to issue a writ of special election within ten days of a vacancy in the General Assembly and a special election must be held exactly 46 days after the date the writ is issued.
The RTC is set to nominate a candidate on Sunday, Dec 15.
Ms. Moss was elected to the RTM in District 8 in 2017, in the election that shook up the membership of the town’s 230-member legislative body.
On the RTM, Moss became delegate for Public Works. Last month she was elected to a second term.
She was elected Vice Chair a year into first term and is currently the chair of District 8, the position held for many years by Christopher vonKeyserling.
“I’ve learned so much about the town. It’s been really rewarding,” she said. “And I have met so many wonderful people.”
This week Moss shared details of her background and elaborated on her platform.
Of growing up one of six siblings – she has four brothers and a sister – Moss joked, “I’m used to fighting for attention.”
Moss’s father was a dentist and her family grew up in Milbrook, the private residential community located in downtown Greenwich. Her family lived next door to former three term First Selectman and insurance company founder Griffith E. Harris.
“He was the best,” Moss said. “He had an old car with the running boards on the side and let us kids ride around on them.”
“My grandfather had a flower shop on Greenwich Avenue called Trepp’s Flowers, a couple doors down from Starbucks,” she recalled.
Her father took over the shop and ran it until he entered dental school, turning the florist over to his brother.
Dr. Harold Michael “Mickey” Trepp was a dentist in the Air Force before starting his long running practice in Greenwich in the 1950s. He was a charter member of the Mianus River Boat & Yacht Club and was an avid fisherman. He also played softball and tennis, and was honored by the Greenwich Old Timers Athletic Association in 1989.
Cheryl attended Julian Curtiss School, St Catherine’s Catholic School and Greenwich High School, from which she graduated from in 1984.
She was a varsity swimmer at Greenwich High School, and recalled spending time fishing with her father on Long Island Sound, an experience that inspired her passion for the environment.
She also credits GHS science teacher and conservationist, Daniel Barrett who taught her Oceanography, with further sparking her environmental interests, which are key to her campaign platform.
“He took us on a whale watch every year,” she recalled. “Before school we’d go to Tod’s Point and do transect studies on the mud flats. We’d wear the big boots, tromp in the mud, and take up samples. We’d measure the number of crustaceans and write up reports.”
Another teacher who had an impact on Moss at GHS was local evironmentalist Susie Baker, now a member of the Conservation Commission and Greenwich Point Conservancy. She said Baker was her diving coach at GHS.
Cheryl went to Bucknell University, where she continued to swim while majoring in Economics and minoring in Biology.
After college she had a career in banking in Boston at The Boston Company where she worked in trusts and estates. Later, she moved to that company’s New York office, which overlooked Rockefeller Center.
“It was fun. I lived in New York City and met my husband Simon there,” she recalled, adding that she and Simon, who is originally from London and works in the software industry, have three sons.
Over time Cheryl said she longed to switch to a career that would enable her to give back.
“I got a great job with Stone & Webster, who do environmental consulting and worked on sludge management,” she said. “They used to dump sewage in Long Island Sound. The fishermen called it ‘The Stain,'” she added, recalling memories from her time fishing with her father.
For a time the couple lived in London where Cheryl worked for the London Borough of Enfield as a recycling officer.
“They hired me because of my economics background and I ran it like a business. I made money for them. It was the early 1990s.
Cheryl and Simon had their son Robert in England. They moved to the US in 1996 and had two more boys.
Robert, 25, also a member of the RTM, recently moved from North Carolina back to Greenwich to study to get his Arborist’s license.
Edward, 22, recently graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “He was a D1 water polo player and played at GHS,” she said. “He was awarded athlete of the year at GHS.”
Like Robert and Edward, Cheryl’s youngest, Conrad, who graduated from GHS in 2016, also played water polo with Terry Lowe.
“I worked for Terry Lowe at Rocky Point as a synchronized swim coach and lifeguard,” she said. I taught Terry’s daughter how to swim.”
As a busy mother of three, Moss said she started a photography business doing portraits. “I wanted to use something I loved and make my own hours with,” she explained. Today she frequently covers events for Serendipity Magazine.
Moss elaborated on three parts of her platform, the first being economic growth.
“The goal is to grow Connecticut’s economy and tie that into protecting the environment,” she said. “We’ve had the tech boom, and the next one will the green boom. In Connecticut we can capitalize on it and bring in green companies.”
“The companies we’ve lost in Connecticut didn’t leave because of taxes,” she said. “They left because their employees wanted to live in a city. You need to bring in companies with the type of employees, like millennials, who want to go hiking or to the beach. You won’t draw big financial firms away from the city. Job growth will come from the green boom.”
Moss said open spaces must be protected. She is concerned about sea level rise and pointed to recent flooding in Cos Cob’s hub as an example.
Also, she said, “We need to protect our parks. The Pinetum has park status but Pomerance Tuchman property does not.”
Again she recalls those fishing expeditions with her father when she was a young girl. “I used to see all the garbage in the water and oil slicks. The water is so much cleaner today than back then. Sound Waters and River Keeper have both done such a phenomenal job.”
Moss said she is confident that economic growth and environmental protection do not conflict. “They tie in to the green boom – having green businesses come to Connecticut and increase the number of employees in our state. That will help take the burden off the burden off lower Fairfield County, which has become the State’s piggy bank. That’s the goal to make the whole state more healthy in order to help our own residents.”
The third prong of her platform is protecting the health and safety of residents.
“For example, we want our older residents to age in place and not be taken advantage of. I’ve been walking with Steve Meskers,” she said. “At places like Hill House seniors, on fixed incomes, each have to pay their own cable bill. It’s over $100. It’s outrageous. He’s going to try to get a bill for cable companies to reduce payments for people on fixed incomes. There might be one charge for the building, and each resident pays a nominal fee on top of that.”
She is also concerned about safety of children in schools.
“It’s such a tragedy. Our kids have grown up in the shadow of 9-11 and lockdown drills,” she said. “I would support protecting existing gun safety legislation.”
Asked about civility in the campaign for the special election given both the bitter election of 2017 and recent controversies of last month’s municipal election, Moss said, “I’d like to bring back civility. The other aspect of growing up in a family of six kids is you learn how to get along with others. My favorite thing is the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
“We need to be able to work together,” she added. “I know I’m the best person to represent the town and its interests.”