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New London - Mayor-elect Daryl Justin Finizio, a day after topping a field of six candidates, began the transition of government from a professional city manager to the first elected mayor since the 1920s.
At a news conference in front of his Ocean Avenue home, Finizio introduced two city residents who will help in the transition. He also said he will be accepting applications for all department head positions, which technically, under the City Charter, will be vacant when he takes office Dec. 5.
"Everyone should realize this will be a nonpartisan, completely merit-based process. Everyone has the right to apply or seek a position,'' Finizio said. "I have no axes to grind and no favors owed."
Finizio, a Democrat, said he believes that some department heads will remain but that all appointments will go to the person "best qualified to serve." All department heads will have to live in New London as per the City Charter, he added.
"I believe some will stay,'' he said. "It will be a mix of new and old."
On Tuesday Finizio will announce a website on which people can apply for jobs in the administration. An announcement will be made on the new appointments Dec. 5, when he is sworn in as mayor, he said.
Finizio said he hopes not to have to replace Fire Chief Ronald Samul and Police Chief Margaret Ackley. After his victory celebration Tuesday, he said he drove to Ackley's house to reiterate that he wants her to stay on as chief.
Ackley, who has accused City Councilor Michael Buscetto III of interfering in her department, has an agreement in place that allows her to retire Dec. 31.
"The police chief has to evaluate her situation,'' Finizio said.
While no other decisions have been made, City Manager Denise Rose has pledged her full support for a smooth transition, Finizio said.
Allyn de Vars, a former title examiner and a right-of-way specialist for Universal Field Services, was appointed chairman of Finizio's transition team. De Vars, who helped with Finizio's mayoral campaign, will be a volunteer.
Zak Leavy, who is finishing his degree at Eastern Connecticut State University, will be Finizio's personal executive assistant during the transition. Leavy, who volunteered in the campaign, has worked as an intern for the American Federation of Teachers.
The appointments are through Dec. 5. De Vars will continue as an unpaid political adviser after that date. Finizio pledged not to hire anyone who donated more than $100 to his campaign, which means De Vars will not be considered for a job in the administration but Leavy could be.
City Charter revisions, which were approved last year by voters and which paved the way for Finizio's election Tuesday, also included broad powers for the new mayor, such as hiring all department heads, including police and fire chiefs. Finizio also will hire a chief administrative officer, a new position created under the charter.
Also on Wednesday, Finizio announced he is closing out his "Finizio for Mayor'' campaign account and thanked William "Billie" Bourque for his services as campaign chairman and treasurer.
Finizio added that any future political accounts will be managed by a certified public accountant.