On Friday afternoon First Selectman Peter Tesei announced he will not run for a seventh term.
Although back in November 2018 Tesei had said publicly that enjoyed the job and would like to continue, but that was not an official announcement. Friday’s announcement was.
Tesei, a Republican, began his career in local government as a teenage member of the Representative Town Meeting. Later he served as chair of the Board of Estimate and Taxation.
On Friday, he said that 11 years ago, when he announced to a crowd of hundreds of supporters in Greenwich Town Hall, his message was, “It’s time.”
On Friday he said the message was the same.
“I’ve decided that after 11 years, it’s time,” he said.
“This is a government of we, not me,” he said adding late Greenwich selectman Dave Theis had given him a plaque that read: There’s no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.
“Eleven plus years ago when I began to campaign for this office: It’s time. I’ve decided over the past few months, after deep personal reflection, that it’s time. To finish this journey and begin a new one with the same focus, passion and determination that I’ve shown these past 31 years in Greenwich government service. Therefore my decision is I will not be seeking a 7th term as first selectman and will enjoy the remaining months to continue working, as I said and will say, to my dying day that we’re here to put Greenwich First. It’s not a political statement. It’s just what you distinctively do when you’re proud of the community you love.” – Peter Tesei
Tesei listed some of the factors that influenced his decision to move on.
“Approaching, in another month, turning 50, which some see as a milestone, and looking at 32 years of service, I could have said, ‘Gee I’ll do this until no one wants me to.’ But it’s a big world out there and there’s a lot of other opportunities and venues for which I can apply the skills I have that will help me to become a broader person in life.”
Also, he said, he’d like to be more predictably available to his two young children, and that his daughter is now attending a school outside Greenwich, which involves a lot of driving.
“It was really about taking into consideration their needs and what is right for them, which they may not appreciate today, but I hope they will appreciate 10, 15, 20 years from now,” he said.
“I’ve always had an interest in community service and civic life,” he said. “I’d like to take the experience I have and apply it to a non profit or small business start up.”
Tesei recounted his many accomplishments over his six terms in office. He said he was pleased about the increase in the police, fire and EMS presence along the 27 miles of coastline and the new public safety vessel.
During his tenure said there has been an updated public safety infrastructure, a new central fire station, emergency radio system, scheduled renovation of the Byram Fire Station, and second SRO at Greenwich High School
“We’ve stood with the Board of Education on building our school infrastructure,” he said. “The Glenville School was added against wishes of the then Republican administration.”
Also, MISA was completed during Tesei’s time as First Selectman, as well as the nearly completed New Lebanon Elementary School
Other projects during his time in office include creation of Cos Cob Park, Byram River flood mitigation, dredging of the Mianus River channel, the 2009 POCD, moderate income housing at Adams Gardens, and approved adding senior residences at McKinney Terrace. He cited battles against what he called “predatory developments in Old Greenwich and Riverside.”
Recently Tesei supported a citizen initiative to ban plastic bags, which he described as “the right thing to do.”
He said the Town established the Harbor Management Commission and the harbor management plan.
All along he said mill rates have been kept modest and predictable.
“We’ve funded our pension liabilities, converted all of our employee bargaining units to defined contribution plans and maintained our AAA ratings based on sound financial management,” he said.
Other milestones included establishing the Diversity Advisory Committee, Youth Commission and Economic Advisory Committee, from which was launched the town PR campaign “Think Greenwich.” That effort has resulted in a recent economic forum, Experience Greenwich Week and Winter Blizzard Blowout Sales Days.
The list goes on and on, and includes completion of Greenwich Pool at Byram Park, Bruce and Byram Park enhancements, Greenwich Commons, and accomplishments of the Greenwich Point Conservancy.
“Plus all the wonderful events that take place in Greenwich that the Town supports through permitting including the Food & Wine Festival, Concours d’Elegance, Greenwich Town Party and International Film Festival.
Tesei said had Rebecca Breed not given him time in 1983, he would have become First Selectman. “She mentored me and told me what the job was about,” he said.
“It’s time,” he concluded. “I’ve decided after deep personal reflection that it’s time to finish this journey and begin a new one with the same focus and determination. Therefore my decision is not to seek a 7th term and will enjoy the remaining months and continue to say that we’re here to put Greenwich First. That’s what you do when you believe in the values of the community. It’s not a political statement. It’s what you do if you’re proud of the community where you live.”
After Tesei’s announcement, RTC chair Rich DiPreta said the Town of Greenwich has been fortunate to have Peter Tesei as its First Selectman for 12 years, and also for his prior service on the Board of Estimate and Taxation where he also served as that Board’s Chairman.
“Some may recall Peter developed a love for Town politics at an early age, becoming the youngest member of the Representative Town Meeting at age 18. All total, Peter has served in Greenwich government for a remarkable 31 years,” DiPreta said. “Peter’s devotion and tireless dedication to this Town have in no small part made Greenwich the premiere destination for people of all ages to live and raise a family. His strong principles of sound fiscal stewardship have allowed Greenwich to succeed where so many other towns in our State have not.”
DiPreta said he knew Tesei’s decision not seek a seventh term as First Selectman was a difficult one.
“Today I applaud the man that he is, and all that he has done for Greenwich. Tomorrow, Republicans will move forward together to continue his legacy of leadership in the First Selectman’s Office.”