Tuesday night was the RTC’s convention meeting, which was held both in person in the Town Hall meeting room and via Zoom.
At the end of the meeting RTC chair Dan Quigley gave candidates their official certificates of party endorsement.
“We have a unique election coming up,” Quigley said of the State Senate race for the 36th district.
“This is a get out the vote election. That’s how we’re going to win it. We feel good about it. Ryan (Fazio) is working really hard. ..We’re going to do everything we can do to help him out to win this election. It’s paramount in importance to the party.”
The first nomination was the top of the ticket, and the RTC Executive Committee put forth Fred Camillo as their candidate.
“He is well known in our community. He may even be related to you,” joked Icy Frantz in her nominating remarks for Camillo. “He is an advocate for small businesses, people with disabilities, our parks, our not-for-profits, our police force, our firemen, our four legged friends, the New York Yankees, and every one of us. He is approachable, hard working, persistent and determined. And he has vision.”
“He has kept our community safe during arguably the most challenging of times,” she added.
Mike Mason seconded the nomination.
“Fred has always been involved with all the different teams and groups, and created so many fabulous exciting new programs and capital projects,” he said. “His passions, his ideas and efforts will be highlighted in town history books. His humble but his direct ability to drive improvements and programming is his strong point.”
“I see Fred all over town, at all different events, trying to get us back to normal by addressing this Covid,” he added. “I think Fred became the right leader at an incredibly unpredictable time.”
The RTC’s voice vote was unanimous in favor of Mr. Camillo.
Camillo, who is wrapping up his first two year term said, “We’ve been through a surreal two years and that the worst pandemic in 100 years didn’t deter us. We can be proud that we got a lot of things accomplished in the past 20 months, and we’re set up really well with a vision for the next 24. We talked about assets and making better use of them, and we’ve been doing that with RFPs being put out and we’re going over them.”
Camillo mentioned the blight ordinance passed by the RTM and that blighted properties are being targeted.
He said between the weekly e-blast and social media, communication has improved.
As far as the environment, he said textile recycling and food scrap recycling programs had been added.
“We talked about pedestrian friendly areas of town,” he added. “Almost every single part of town now has a committee working actively on enhancing the beauty and public safety features.”
“We talked about public-private partnerships – we’ve done several already,” he said, adding, “A few weeks ago we secured a $5 million donation for the (Eastern Greenwich) civic center.”
“We are focused to continue and finish what we started,” Camillo added. “Tonight as we leave the building we must be united as a team. There is a lot at stake.”
Former State Rep Livvy Floren (R-149) nominated Lauren Rabin for a second term as Selectwoman.
“Lauren lives the adage, if you want something done, and done right, ask the busiest person you can find,” Floren said.
Floren noted that in addition to attending regular Board of Selectmen and RTM meetings, ribbon cuttings and debates, Ms Rabin is the liaison to the Commission on Aging, the Selectman’s Nominating Advisory Committee and our Fairfield County regional county governments. She co-chairs the Reimagine Greenwich committee. She represents the selectmen at numerous P&Z meetings. She serves on the building committee for the entrance to Greenwich High School and she brainstorms with the Glenville greensape committee.”
“She is respected across diverse Greenwich demographic and political persuasions,” Floren added. “Lauren truly enjoys meeting and listening to her constituents. Her friendly and cheerful smile embraces and unifies. She’s never met a stranger.”
Floren’s nomination was seconded by Irene Dietrich.
“Balanced, impartial, equitable and reasonable – all are desired traits of an exceptional leader. This is exactly what the Town of Greenwich expects of our Board of Selectpersons,” Dietrich said. “Thankfully for our citizens, this is a very accurate description of Lauren Rabin.”
Rabin was voted to be candidate unanimously by voice voted.
Rabin praised Fred Camillo.
“This man is 24/7 and he does not get paid to work 24/7, and that benefits everyone in our community,” she said. “Who here has not tried to contact Fred at 7:00am or 11:00on a Sunday night not not gotten back a response?”
“We’re emerging from the past 16 months more resilient, but we need to stay in office because we have much more we need to accomplish,” she added. “Some of the issues are really complex, like the environment. Some of the issues are longstanding, like the traffic in town and parking in our business districts, like affordable housing.”
The nail biter of the evening was about who might be the nominated candidate for town clerk.
candidates included Republican Registrar of Voters Fred DeCaro, Jackie Budkins and BET member Karen Fassuliotis, who became chair of that board when Mike Mason resigned to take a job with the town as labor contract negotiator.
Lauren Rabin nominated Jackie Budkins, citing her good ideas, positive energy, selflessness, commitment, dedication and integrity.
“Jackie is a successful real estate agent earning diverse clients’ trust for over 20 years,” Rabin said. “As someone who regularly uses the resources within the town clerk’s office, Jackie has a keen understanding of what is needed to serve the customer.”
Rabin said more and more public data is accessible in the cloud.
“Jackie is technology savvy and has the skills and patience necessary to educate the public on how to use our online resources. She is an effective communicator, especially on digital and social platforms.”
“Jackie has what it takes to win, having been in the trenches of multiple winning campaigns. Jackie is the person you want on our side. She will reach across the aisle to gain support. She will use her vast relationships to engage volunteers – her warm smile and big heart.”
Marla Weston seconded the nomination, describing Jackie as a team player who pitches in whenever there is a need.
“I met Jackie as a new member of the RTC 8 years ago. I was impressed with her knowledge of the political process. She carries a lot of responsibility behind the scenes that a lot of people don’t get to see. That is because she is very humble even when she is being recognized for her accomplishments…She gives credit to the team and other volunteers around her. These are the attributes of a compassionate, empathetic, high integrity and focused leader. Her experience and characteristics are the skills necessary to beat the Democrats.”
Lucia Jansen nominated Karen Fassuliotis for town clerk.
“It’s hard to believe but I have known Karen, my fellow colleague on RTM and neighbor, for 15 years since she first joined the RTM in 2006. I watched as Karen first started as an alternate and then a voting member of the Legislative and Rules committee. She then became a voting member of the Health and Human Services committee where she eventually became the committee chair. Karen is not shy and quickly established herself as a leader in the RTM. Against all odds Karen received her first nomination for the BET and won again in a primary.”
Jansen said that while the BET was under Democratic leadership, Fassuliotis was part of the Republican caucus.
“Despite that setback the Republican caucus was united, and as a member of that body were able to stave off long term borrowing and huge tax increases.”
Karen is currently chair of the of the Human Resources and Law committees, and recently assumed the chair position of the BET when Mr. Mason stepped down.
Jansen said Ms. Fassuliotis was also a compassionate person and had won the Probate Court’s pro bono award for helping those in need, not once, not twice, but three times, most recently this year.
“Throughout the Covid pandemic she stepped up to the plate whenever she was asked to represent someone who could not afford a lawyer,” Jansen said.
Jansen reminded the RTC members that Fassuliotis was the only candidate who was also a lawyer, another reason she was a great town clerk candidate.
“Having a person who speaks the language is critical to this office,” she added.
Mike Mason seconded Fassuliotis’s nomination for town clerk.
“Timing is a funny thing. As you know this position only seems to become available every 30 years or so,” he joked. “Since I’ve known Karen I’ve known she had an interest in this office.”
“She is totally prepared. Her ability, her experience, credentials and commitment are beyond reproach.”
Fred DeCaro, Greenwich’s Republican Registrar of Voters, did not ask for a seconding speech.
“In my seven terms as your Registrar, I have had the privilege of being nominated by many people,” he said. “Tonight I thought I’d give my nominators a rest and do the job myself.”
“For 13 years, you’ve asked me to safeguard one of the rights we hold dear, lest they be diminshed through fraud or cheating, or just plain incompetence,” DeCaro said of the right to vote.
“In the past 30 days I’ve tried to demonstrate three things. First, I care enough about the position I’m seeking to prepare for it.
He said that starting in 2019 he began taking classes to become a certified town clerk. He is also a justice of the peace and a notary.
DeCaro said he had a proven and measurable track record.
“I have put in the time, because that’s how one earns a position,” he added. “Now you are entrusted with sending a message about what it takes to earn the right to carry our banner, and to serve all of Greenwich.”
After a roll call vote the total votes were as follows:
Jackie Budkins: 33 votes
Karen Fassuliotis: 17 votes
Fred DeCaro: 13 votes
Ms Budkins drew a round of applause including from her mother Carmella Budkins, Greenwich’s 30 year town clerk who recently announced she would not run for another term.
Jackie Budkins said she was excited to run.
“I am ready to make you proud and I’m going to go out there and work as hard as I can, just like I have for everybody else I have worked for and has won.”
Jim Vivier nominated Heather Smeriglio for tax collector, saying he’d met her when they were both members of the Greenwich Rotary Club, with its motto ‘service above self.’
“I can’t think of a better person who exemplifies that,” he said. “This is the lifeblood of our community. Our tax dollars are what helps keep everything moving and prospering.”
“At a time where folks are experiencing tremendous hardships, we’re also experiencing an influx of tax dollars as a result of conveyance fees and things along those lines,” Vivier said.
“This is someone who, well in advance of her term as tax collector, got herself certified as a municipal tax collector 5 years ago in preparation for the role,” he said. “We’ve got a 99.3% collection rate, even through these very challenging times.”
Mike Bocchino seconded Vivier’s nomination. He said she knows wholeheartedly how to run the tax collector’s office and has the compassion to be there for the people when the come in with “the most horrific of situations.”
Bocchino said that during Covid, Smeriglio reached out to the Democratic Governor Ned Lamont, and asking to making an extension possible for the people of Greenwich and the people of the state of Connecticut.
“She was able to raise already, before July 1, $35 million, which is the most that the tax collector’s office has ever done before that. This woman really knows what she’s doing.”
Ms Smeriglio said she felt blessed to live and serve in Greenwich.
“I am thankful to God for this opportunity to run for a second term to run for a second term as your tax collector,” she said. “I’ll do my very best to listen and demonstrate compassion to the residents while being fiscally responsible to the town.”
There was a voice vote on the slate for BET recommended by the RTC executive committee:
Leslie Tarkington, Bill Drake and Karen Fassuliotis, plus new candidates Michael Basham, Dan Ozizmir and Nisha Arora.
The was also a voice vote approved BOE candidates recommended by the RTC executive committee: Michael-Joseph Mercanti-Anthony, Megan Galletta, Cody Kittle and Claire Muldoon.
For Board of Assessment Appeals, a voice vote was unanimous for Mark Pruner, Jeff Reardon and new candidate Kit Mill.
Lastly for Constable there was a voice vote for Martin Blanco, Donna Maloney, John Thompson and new candidate, Charles Thivierge.
At the close, RTC chair Dan Quigley noted that the evening’s meeting had been the first in person in many months.
“I encourage everyone to get out on the campaign trail,” he said. “This is such an important election for Republicans. We’ve got 30% of the town as registered Republicans, so we’ve got to get as many people out to vote as we can.”