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New London - Standing in the sunlight in front of fire department headquarters on Bank Street at noontime Friday, surrounded by police, fire and emergency vehicles, Mayor-elect Daryl J. Finizio announced that both the police and fire chief would remain in their respective positions under his fledgling administration.
Finizio said it had been a pledge of his since January to keep Police Chief Margaret Ackley and Fire Chief Ronald Samul in their positions if Finizio were elected. Finizio said both Ackley and Samul had agreed to stay on. Earlier this year, Ackley reached an agreement with the city manager to retire by the end of the year, and said at a City Council meeting in August that Councilor Michael Buscetto III was "causing her distress" by meddling in police affairs and that she was unable to do her job. That agreement had an opt-out clause, which she is exercising.
"We've engaged in extended dialogue since the election about the new roles that would be played in the new administration and I'm very glad that both of them have agreed to stay on," Finizio said.
Finizio will be sworn in as mayor on Dec. 5 and has said he'd like to have all department head positions filled at that time.
Samul and Ackley made brief statements thanking Finizio for his support, and pledging to continue the high-quality service they said their respective departments provide for the city.
"It's an exciting time with our strong mayor form of government and it is time to start moving forward and the police department intends to do exactly that," Ackley said. "We're approaching this as a team approach with the new city government."
The announcement comes a day after Finizio announced that current Law Director Thomas Londregan would not retain his position with the city. Finizio said yesterday that "it's time for a new person or a younger person in the post to join the administration. Londregan, 67, was first appointed as the city's law director 25 years ago on a temporary basis.
On Friday, Finizio apologized for the comment and said it was taken out a context. Finizio said his administration "does not discriminate at all on the basis of age, on the basis of any ethnicity, racial classification, gender classification or political partisanship."
"It was in a conversation with Attorney Londregan about the need for an individual who would be willing to have a long-term commitment to the position and Attorney Londregan himself mentioned his own age and that he had served for a great period of time and that it was a mutual discussion that perhaps someone willing to make a long-term commitment would be a younger person," Finizio said. "But, anyone, of any age, who applies including someone older than Mr. Londregan himself, who is willing to make a long-term commitment to the administration would be fully considered."
"It does not accurately indicate my approach to hiring," he said.