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Comings and goings on Ledyard Town Council

Ledyard — For the second time in two months, the Town Council is filling a vacancy on its panel.

Democrat Anthony Sabilia's last scheduled meeting is June 23, one day before he's stepping down. The move comes after Republican Councilor Tom Malone resigned May 12th.

Sabilia, 54, says his decision to leave is purely economic in nature. He has purchased the former Grader Jewelers building on the Boston Post Road in Waterford, where he'll be relocating his signage business, Fastsigns. It's currently located just down the road from the new site. It'll also be where he and his wife will live, as he'll be expanding the living space on the second floor. They'll be renting an apartment in Groton for about three months until the new residence is ready.

Sabilia is leaving about five months shy of completing his second two-year term on the Ledyard Council. "I'm not the type of guy who walks away from a commitment," he said. "It's an economic move, and what's right for me and my family."

"I originally was going to wait until after the election to make the move," he added. "But given the current real estate climate, we had to do it when I could. I thought if we waited any longer, we would end up losing money as this real estate bubble is going to pop." His Ledyard home sold within 24 hours, with multiple offers.

"It's crazy," he said.

Sabilia says his time on the council has been very rewarding, and he has been part of a team that "initiated a lot of change in Ledyard." Among those changes: More efficient land-use procedures, school improvement projects and new permitting regulations for short-term rentals.

Sabilia admits he's sad about leaving the council. "We need good people in town government, and it's getting harder and harder to find them," he said. "Everybody's busy. Some people say it's a thankless job, but I don't look at it that way."

As for possible involvement in Waterford town government, "They're already bugging me to run," Sabilia said with a laugh. "I'm not planning on running for anything right now, but I have been asked."

His sister, Elizabeth, serves on Waterford's Board of Selectmen, after previously serving two nonconsecutive terms as the mayor of New London.

Ledyard's Democratic Town Committee will be presenting nominees to complete Sabilia's term on the Town Council, which is expected to name a replacement June 23rd.

Meanwhile, the newest member of the council is settling into the job.

Republican Tim Ryan, 39, was appointed to the panel on May 19 to replace the departing Tom Malone. Ryan moved to Gales Ferry from New London two years ago, but says he's no stranger to public service. He served as vice chairman of New London's Planning and Zoning Commission, the city's representative to the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments Regional Planning Commission, and as the lone registered Republican on the city's Charter Review Board. He was also vice chairman of the New London Republican Town Committee, and waged two unsuccessful bids to be on the City Council. He currently serves as an alternate member of Ledyard's Planning and Zoning Commission.

The Electric Boat employee says being involved in municipal government is a top priority for him. "It was surprising to me when I first got involved in New London how big of an impact you can make," he said. "You're making decisions that are making a definitive impact on residents and your neighbors. To me, that was a great responsibility."

Ryan said his main concern is to ensure there is fiscal and procedural transparency in local government. "We have to make sure we clearly communicate (to voters) what we're doing and why we are doing it, especially when it comes to approving expenditures." He'll be serving on the council's Finance Committee, which puts together the annual municipal budget.

"I've always been a budget hawk," he said. "You have to make sure the primary needs of residents are met, but balanced against what the town can actually afford."

He said he's a big proponent of regionalization by sharing resource purchases "where they make sense."

"There are a lot of areas where communities can share the burden of providing common services," he said. "We don't have to all have our little fiefdoms."

Ryan says he wants to continue to make Ledyard attractive to business, but to make sure the town also maintains its own characteristics and persona. "That's what attracted me and my family to move here," he said. "It's the character of the town."

As for running for a full term on the council this fall, Ryan said it's in the back of his mind. He had every intention to run for public office in Ledyard but admits it's all happening a bit quicker than he expected. He added he's been talking with the Republican Town Committee about running.

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