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New London mayor looks to write new narrative for city

New London — During his campaign for a second term as mayor, Michael Passero continually talked about writing a new narrative for the city and shedding the outdated perception of a city in decline.

Coming off a resounding victory in the November election, Passero struck a similarly upbeat tone at his swearing in on Monday.

He told the gathered crowd at the Garde Arts Center that “we never gave up believing in our city despite the hardships,” that came with a four-decade-long slide that started in the 1960s when population started to fall, poverty grew, urban renewal projects stumbled and empty storefronts blossomed.

“This is a time of great expectations for our city,” Passero said. “The time has arrived when we are rewarded for our enduring faith in the inherent greatness of our city. The persistent storyline about our city’s unrealized potential is morphing into a tale of grand expectations about our future. Let the talk of our potential fade and let the excitement for today’s achievements build.”

He said the city is well-positioned to continue a development trend that has led to 800 units of new housing. The growth, he said, is propelling redevelopment of downtown while the work of a reinvigorated development corporation is “making steady progress toward ending the city’s last urban renewal boondoggle,” at Fort Trumbull.

Monday’s ceremony, complete with an introduction by the New London Firefighters Pipes and Drums, marked the first gathering for the crop of new city council members. Democrats won big in this year’s election, filling all seven council seats and six of the seven school board seats. All were sworn in Monday.

Efrain Dominguez, a teacher starting his fourth term on the council, was elected council president, taking over for John Satti.

Dominguez, who grew up in the now-vacant Crystal Avenue high rises, called it an honor to stand as the first “but not the last” Latino to be elected as City Council president.

One of the city’s biggest cheerleaders, Dominguez continued his enthusiasm for what he said is a “city on the rise.”

Alma Nartatez, in her second term, was elected president pro tempore. The two are joined on the council by Satti and newcomers Kevin Booker Jr., James Burke, Curtis Goodwin and Reona Dyess.

Board of Education members were sworn in earlier in the evening in a separate gathering. They include Jefferey P. Hart, Regina Mosley, Elaine Maynard-Adams, Bryan Doughty, Lee Cornish-Muller, Queenie Diaz and Robert Pero. Pero, a Republican, was the lone non-Democrat elected in the November election. Mosley was elected as school board president and Hart as vice president during the school board's organizational meeting on Monday.

“These new leaders are ready for the challenges we face as our city reclaims its role as the economic and cultural heart of Southeastern Connecticut,” Passero said.

In addition to thanking his department heads for their various roles in the city, Passero gave a nod to school Superintendent Cynthia Ritchie and said her leadership is leading to a stronger school system.

g.smith@theday.com

 

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