The City Council has re-elected its two lead officials, with President Michael Passero and President Pro Tempore Wade Hyslop returned to their posts on Monday.
Councilors voted 6-1 to name Passero as council president and unanimously to name Hyslop as president pro tempore as part of an annual selection of the positions in the first meeting in December. The meeting also reassigned leadership of four council committees.
Passero said the current council is the first one to operate under the newly instituted strong mayor form of government and must be aware that it is setting precedent for future councils. He said the council should continue to represent New London residents and oversee municipal finances.
“The council has faced considerable challenges in the first year of the term and, while it hasn’t always been pretty, I am proud of our commitment to open government and of the courage that each member of this council has shown in advocating for the positions they believe in, despite what has been at times some very tough criticism and, at times, some very unfair and uncivil attacks,” said Passero.
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Passero said the changes to the committee chairs and membership is meant to improve the committees’ effectiveness and better promote the goals of individual councilors. He said New London is not alone in coping with financial difficulties, saying several communities are falling revenues and other challenges.
“In view of the situation, I would say to this team, sitting up here with me, you are doing a good job. Do not get discouraged,” said Passero. “As long as we stay the course together, we will get the city through this fiscal year and we will put together a budget to get us through the next fiscal year.”
Passero said the city’s goals should include revitalization of neighborhoods and parks, attracting development and private investment, restoring historic buildings, and establishing a community center. He said residents on several city boards and commissions are assisting with these initiatives, and also praised the work of the Board of Education, state-appointed special master Dr. Stephen Adamowski, and parents of students in New London Public Schools.
“Our single most important duty is to provide an education for our children that prepares them for success in our society,” said Passero. “The single factor that has dragged down our city is the perception that we are failing our children. I believe a good deal of the perception is wrong, but we can do better and we will do better. The council has an important role in this effort and we will fulfill it.”
Councilor John Maynard, who opposed Passero’s reappointment as president, said he did not think the title should carry over from year to year.
“I didn’t support having the same person two years in a row where previously we’ve always rotated,” he said.
The changes in committee leadership included:
- Passero, previously chair of the Finance Committee, will lead the Public Works Committee and serve on the Finance Committee and Economic Development Committee.
- Hyslop, who previously chaired the Public Safety Committee, will chair the Administration Committee and serve on the Education, Parks & Recreation Committee and Public Welfare Committee.
- Maynard, who previously chaired the Administration Committee, will chair the Public Safety Committee and serve on the Administration Committee and Economic Development Committee.
- Councilor Donald Macrino, who previously chaired the Public Works Committee, will chair the Finance Committee and serve on the Public Safety Committee and Education, Parks & Recreation Committee.
- Councilor Marie Friess-McSparran will remain chair of the Public Welfare Committee and serve on the Public Safety Committee and Public Works Committee.
- Councilor Anthony Nolan will remain chair of the Education, Parks & Recreation Committee and serve on the Public Welfare Committee and Public Works Committee.
- Councilor Adam Sprecace will remain chair of the Economic Development Committee and serve on the Finance Committee and Administration Committee.