The theme last Friday afternoon as the town’s newly elected officials were sworn into office was “change”. Though there was no change at the top spot of First Selectman, Jim Zeoli, starting his sixth term, said he too would focus on change.
“It’s good to see so many friendly faces in this room. You either love me or you hate me, but together, we are the envy of many towns,” Zeoli said. “This town is in the best shape it’s been in in years. I’d like to be able to send my entire board of finance to Hartford. I think they could learn a thing or two from us up there. We need to change the mindset in Hartford. The state needs to rethink its process and become a producer. It can be done.”
“We have our work cut out for us,” said minority leader State Senator Len Fasano (R-34). “The budget is out of control and we have to refocus.” Fasano, admitting that it was for the first time, swore in the town’s elected officials after saying a few words. It’s sad our kids are not looking to Connecticut as a place to stay. They don’t think it’s possible to prosper and raise a family here,” he said. “Change will start with local voices—your voices. Carry those voices that we are not going to treat Connecticut the same way. It’s not okay to continuously raise taxes. We have to bring sanity back to this state.”
Republican Selectmen Judy Williams, John Carangelo and Ralph Okenquist retained their seats on the board, as did Democrat Mitch Goldblatt, who is joined by former State Rep. Paul Davis as a selectman and taking Ken Lenz’s seat on the board.
Town Clerk Patrick O’Sullivan ran unopposed and will serve another two-year term. Republican Tax Collector Sandra Pierson will also serve another two year term.
The Board of Finance remained intact with incumbents Kevin Houlihan, Jim Leahy and Kevin Moffet all re-elected.
The Orange Board of Education will have three new members: Republicans Ken Ziman and Chantelle Ewen-Bunnell and Democrat Betty Hadlock. Incumbents Mara Saccente, Bill Kraut and Susan Riccio were also re-elected.
Judy Smith, Ralph Aschettino and Paul Kaplan will return to the Town Plan & Zoning Commission.
Newcomers John Belfonti and Amy Esposito were elected to the Amity Board of Education, joining incumbents Tracy Russo and Christopher Browe.
Town Constables Jeff Vargo, Jody Damon, Mike Donadeo, Glen Papelo, Randy Thomas, Santo Galatioto, Jr. and Bob Shanley will serve for two years.
After being sworn, First Selectman Jim Zeoli welcomed the newcomers and those who have served before. “We are a team here in Orange. I say this all the time, but there is no ‘I’ in team. From the constables to the First Selectman, and everything in between, we are a team that works for the betterment of every person in Orange,” he said.
Zeoli’s speech focused not only on thanking those who supported him, but also on ways Orange could grow through producing and exporting. “We produce 50% of the milk we consume in Orange. We should be producing 100% of it,” he said.
He also let his personal side show, reminiscing of his time as a bus driver, driving Emily Killian, now in high school, to kindergarten, “I drove her to kindergarten every day and I knew she was a chatterbox, but I didn’t know how talented she was until the middle school promotion. I was absolutely astounded to hear her sing.” Killian sang the American Anthem and Orange Colored Sky by Nat King Cole at the swearing-in ceremony.
In conclusion, Zeoli vowed, “I promise to do my best job possible for everyone in this room and everyone in this town.”