Rob Simmons takes over as Stonington first selectman

Stonington — With his spartan office not yet decorated except for a large framed aerial photograph of Stonington Harbor, Rob Simmons took over as first selectmen Tuesday, promising that he and his fellow selectmen will govern together and work as a team with department heads and employees.

After a morning meeting with town labor attorney Mike Satti and former First Selectman George Crouse to review some pending labor issues, the former three-term congressman from the Second District met with his department heads.

Simmons said he told them that now that the election is over, it is time to accept the voters’ decision and move forward in a nonpartisan way for the good of the town. Simmons defeated Crouse on Nov. 3.

He reviewed with them the state law and town charter provisions that concern the authority of the Board of Selectmen and said that while he is the town’s chief elected official, unaffiliated Selectman Mike Spellman and Democratic Selectwoman Kate Rotella will be very involved in governing the town with him.

“Every member of the Board of Selectmen has the right to ask questions and receive information,” Simmons said he told them.

Last year, Public Works Director Barbara McKrell filed a harassment complaint against Spellman after he asked questions about the use of pesticides on town athletic fields after being contacted by concerned residents.

“I look forward to having a productive relationship with the department heads. Without their participation and cooperation, we’re not going to be successful. I told them I’m looking forward to being successful,” Simmons said.

Simmons said he will especially turn to Spellman, a retired state police lieutenant who now works as a Groton City police officer, for his expertise on public safety matters, and Rotella, the Town of Waterford purchasing officer, when it comes to financial issues.

Although he and Spellman were running mates, Simmons said Rotella, who ran with Crouse, will be “fully engaged” in the work of the Board of Selectmen.

He said he also asked department heads on Monday to prepare a list of their priorities and will meet with each of them individually to discuss their lists once they are submitted. He said he will also implement weekly meetings with his department heads each Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Simmons said he will soon meet the heads of the three unions that represent town employees. Meanwhile, he will begin preparing the proposed 2016-17 budget, with department requests due next month.

“Public office is a public trust. We owe it to the Town of Stonington and the taxpayers to provide the best possible service we can at a reasonable price,” he said.

And yes, Simmons will continue his Thursday morning appearances as “The Colonel” on Lee Elci’s 94.9 FM radio show. Simmons said he will continue to comment on national, international and state affairs on the show and will answer question concerning Stonington if asked by Elci.

j.wojtas@theday.com

@joewojtas

 

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