UPDATE: Shakeup Among Elected Officials in Greenwich Continues with Announcement from Longtime Town Clerk Carmella Budkins

UPDATE: Gov. Ned Lamont has scheduled a special election for the 36th District Senate seat, which was vacated by Alex Kasser who resigned last month. The election will take place on Tuesday, August 17.

On the second week of shakeups in local government, longtime Town Clerk, Republican Carmella Budkins, announced she will not run for another term. After 30 years, Ms Budkins said in a statement that it had been an honor to service the residents of Greenwich.

Town Clerk Carmella Budkins in her office at Greenwich Town Hall.

“I am humbled by the support I have received for 15 elections. During these past three decades I am proud of the changes made to modernize and bring the clerks office into the 21st century,” she said. “We have implemented technology and preserved our historic documents making them accessible to all.  My focus has always been about serving the public in a professional manner.”

Budkins said the staff in her office had been exemplary. “I am blessed for their support and friendship,” she said.

“There is a time in life to make changes and for me this is one of these times. I will not be seeking a 16th term for Town Clerk, a job that I have loved and enjoyed for 30 years. I look forward to spending time with my husband John, my children and my five grandchildren.  My gratitude to all the friends and acquaintances made over the 30 years.”

Carmella Budkins, Greenwich Town Clerk

RTC chair Dan Quigley said in a statement that Ms Budkins was “an institution in our community.”

“Always doing her job with a smile and a positive attitude, Carm embodied what it means to be a public servant,” he said. “She was not only beloved by the many residents whom she helped over the years, but also by her staff and co-workers who she always treated as part of her family….Carm has set the bar for how to run the Town Clerk’s office.”

Ed Dadakis, longtime RTM member and former chairman of the Greenwich Republican party, also referred to Ms Budkins an institution.

“I am both sad and happy,” Dadakis said. “Sad for our town that she is departing but happy for her because she has earned a long, happy and healthy retirement.”

Dadakis recalled that Ms Budkins was his vice chairman when he first took over the leadership of Greenwich’s Republican Party. 

“I relied on her more then she probably ever knew,” he said. “She gave me smart advice and guidance and did so much to keep us unified and victorious. As one of the longest serving RTM members, I have seen how essential she is to its smooth and effective running.  I especially enjoyed watching her in action at the first meeting of each term when she took the Moderator’s podium until the moderator was elected. But her hallmark was her ability to get along with everyone. Every single person who walked into Carmen’s office over the past 30 years found themselves a friend.  She treated everyone with respect, thoughtfulness and responded quickly with whatever they needed.  That is why she easily won all those elections.  With Carmen as Town Clerk our Town Hall was always welcoming. An era has ended.  Carmen will be missed.”

More Changes… Mike Mason Won’t Run again for BET, State Senator Alex Kasser Resigns

Last week longtime Board of Estimate and Taxation member Michael Mason, who is currently the chair of the board, announced he would not seek another term. Instead he has accepted a two year contract with the town to be a labor contract negotiator.

Also last week, State Senator Alex Kasser (D-36) resigned abruptly, citing personal reasons.

Former BET member John Blankley announced he would seek his party’s nomination for Kasser’s position.

So too did newcomer Alexis Gevanter, an attorney who is currently the federal legislative lead in CT for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense.

This week both State Rep Steve Meskers and Ms Kasser endorsed Ms Gevanter.

“As the State Representative for the 150th district I want to lend my support to Alexis Gevanter as candidate for the 36th Senate Seat,” Meskers said in an email. “In these time I think it imperative that we stand behind a thoughtful and caring and involved candidate,” he added. “Someone who unites and represents the best of who we are and who we want to be.”

Meskers said he had worked with Ms Gevanter and know her to be kind and thoughtful and collaborative.

“I endorse her candidacy wholeheartedly,” he added.

On Wednesday, Ms Kasser said in an email that she endorsed Ms Gevanter.

On the Republican side, RTC chair Dan Quigley said three people had expressed interest in running for Kasser’s seat.

First is State Rep Harry Arora from the 149th district. After winning a special election on Jan 21, 2020 the seat vacated by Fred Camillo when he became First Selectman, Mr. Arora won a second term in November 2020. If Arora were to become State Senator, that would trigger another special election.

The second person who would like the nomination is Leora Levy who is the Republican National Committeewoman for the State of Connecticut. Ms Levy was nominated in 2019 by former President Donald Trump to be US Ambassador to Chile.

The third person interested in the nomination is Ryan Fazio, who challenged Ms Kasser last November. Fazio is a member of the Representative Town Meeting and serves on the Greenwich Energy Efficiency Committee.

Each party’s candidate will be selected by delegates from each of the three towns that comprise the 36th district: Greenwich, Stamford and New Canaan.

Once a nominee is selected he or she can begin to campaign in earnest and a special election is anticipated in August.

As far as candidates for the Board of Selectmen, First Selectman Fred Camillo and Selectwoman Lauren Rabin announced several weeks ago their intention of running for second terms. Democratic Selectperson Jill Oberlander has said she will not run again.

On June 21 the DTC announced a full slate of candidates for the upcoming municipal elections. Pursuant to state law, the DTC will hold its nominating convention to endorse candidates at its July 21 meeting.

• First Selectman: William “Bill” Kelly is an attorney and a longtime resident who has served the Town for over 18 years on the RTM, the BET, and the Board of Education. Bill understands the Town and its government and is committed to Greenwich’s bright future.

“Our focus is the future of Greenwich—all of Greenwich. We want the Greenwich that we know and believe in, not one of politics and rancor; not one of collapsing roofs and downtown gridlock but one of low taxes; great schools and wonderful diversity,” Kelly said. “Janet and I intend to bring a caring, compassionate and cooperative leadership style with forward thinking and creativity.”

• Selectman: Janet Stone McGuigan continues a family tradition of service to Greenwich and is a member of the RTM. A graduate of Cornell University and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Janet’s professional experience includes mediating federal policy disputes. “Bill and I make a great team. Let us show you how we can serve our Town.”

• Town Clerk: Mary “Molly” Saleeby is a lifelong Greenwich resident currently serving her second term on the RTM. She is her District’s Vice Chair and a member of the Budget Overview Committee. Molly also volunteers with the Parks and Recreation Foundation. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Molly’s professional background is administration, marketing, and customer service.

• Tax Collector: Trevor Crow, a graduate of Wellesley College and Harvard Business School, began her career in the securities industry before becoming a family therapist.

Stephen Selbst is the proposed candidate to replace Elizabeth Krumeich, who is stepping down after three terms of service. Stephen Selbst has lived in Greenwich for 28 years. His experience as an attorney specializing in finance and restructuring leaves him well-positioned to serve on the Town’s finance board.

• Board of Education: Kathleen Stowe is the Vice-Chair of the Board of Education and is recommended for another term.

The Nominating Committee also recommends Laura Kostin and Katherine LoBalbo, both of whom serve on the RTM. All three candidates are committed to continuing the excellence of the Town’s schools while addressing very
real problems, such as post-pandemic issues of mental health and learning loss, aging school infrastructure and delivery of special education services.

• Board of Assessment Appeals: The Nominating Committee recommends incumbents Joe Huley and Howard Richman, as well as Bill Grad.

• Constable: The Nominating Committee recommends incumbents Dawn Fortunato and Donnie Romeo.