First Selectman James Zeoli, along with 28 other town leaders, was sworn in for his ninth term in a well-attended ceremony at High Plains Community Center on Friday, November 12. The event created a moment of unity in an otherwise fractured and divisive world.
“Politics often is a blood sport,” Zeoli said, “but not here. Ninety-nine percent of the time we get along,” he added. Now those 99% were probably not meant to be a precise number, but the sentiment did fit the moment perfectly.
Zeoli thanked the people of Orange for putting their trust in him; he thanked his challenger, Connor Deane, for running an overall clean campaign that did not devolve into the personal attacks that are so often prevalent in the current political landscape.
He drew attention to the fact that during this election cycle new people stepped up to the plate to participate in the town’s business; “new faces and young faces,” he added.
The inauguration also was doubly special as it was the last time – after 25 years – that Town Clerk Patrick O’Sullivan got to administer the oath of office to all the newly elected officials. He did it with the grace and sense of humor that he had been known for; and he told a little story about his father joining the Board of Selectmen in 1965, just as a blackout involving millions of people plunged the East Coast into darkness. The first meeting took place in Bill Knight’s car, he said.
With a voice thick with emotion, O’Sullivan also swore in his successor, Mary Shaw, followed by a warm hug to seal the transition. He asked people to take a picture of the occasion, so his family would finally believe that he was actually retiring.
Zeoli pointed out that O’Sullivan would be chairing the Bicentennial Committee, planning a series of events for the town in June of 2022.
Former State Rep. Themis Klarides delivered the keynote address, and prompted a round of applause for all the candidates who ran, successful or not. “It’s not easy to put yourself out there,” she said. But it’s the connection with the people in the town that make it all worthwhile. “People putting trust in you is what keeps you going,” she said.
Klarides spoke of the characteristics of a good leader that will be recognizable to the people of Orange. He will be responsive and listen to constituents’ needs. “They know they will be cared for and listened to,” even if they don’t always agree with everything he does. His constituents will know that he has the towns’ best interest at heart.
“It’s that care that got him re-elected last week,” she said.
The other officials being sworn in included the following:
Board of Selectmen — John Carangelo, Connor Deane, Mitchell Goldblatt, Ralph Okenquist and Judy Williams;
Town Clerk – Mary Shaw;
Tax Collector — Thomas Hurley;
Board of Finance — Ajeet Jain, Kevin McNabola and Joseph Nuzzo;
Town Plan and Zoning — Kevin Cornell, Ozzie Parente and Thomas Torrenti;
Orange Board of Education — Jeffery Cap, Ronnette James, Tatiana Messina-Mullen, Carmen Rodrigues and Liz Tremper;
Amity Board of Education — Christina Levere-D’Addio, Carla Eichler and Sean Hartshorn;
Constables — Jay Carrier, Jody Daymon, Michael Donadeo, Santo Galatioto Jr., Glen Papelo, Randoph Thomas and Dan Zapatka.
- BOS: Town Clerk Patrick O’Sullivan (at right) administers the oath of office for the last time before his retirement for the Board of Selectmen. From left, Connor Deane, Mitch Goldblatt, Judy Williams, John Carangelo and Ralph Okenquist
- Standing ovation: Outgoing Town Clerk Patrick O’Sullivan gets a standing ovation, from both sides of the aisle
- Mary Shaw: Town Clerk Patrick O’Sullivan administers the oath of office for his friend and successor, Mary Shaw. He asked for the moment to be captured on camera, because his family would otherwise not believe that he will actually retire, he joked. O’Sullivan has been town clerk for some 25 years.
- Former State Rep. Themis Klarides delivered the keynote address
- Nolan Young sang the National Anthem. His calm, clear voice soon had the audience join in.
- First Selectman Jim Zeoli was sworn in for his ninth term
By Bettina Thiel – Orange Town News Correspondent