Szymanski Stumps For Mayor

A temperate evening and a desire to support the re-election of incumbent Mayor Patricia Murphy brought nearly 70 smiling faces to Tivoli Restaurant near the New Milford Town Green Monday night.

Whether they were in suits, dresses or T-shirts, the crowd gathered on the front patio laughed, sipped wine, nibbled hors d’oeuvres and milled around Ms. Murphy and the event’s special guest, Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, both of whom congenially chatted with supporters of the Republican mayor’s cause. In a friendly atmosphere conducive for mingling, they only hushed when the crowd filed inside for a speech by Mr. Fedele, who referred to the six-year mayor as an “exceptional woman.”

“We need to get more Republicans elected, not just in the state House but here locally,” Mr. Fedele told the attentive gathering. “It’s important to keep majorities when we have them and get them when we don’t… . We can’t take anything for granted.” A polished politician, the Stamford native’s fairly brief speech particularly delighted the gathering when it closed with a compliment on the town’s beauty. With that, he prematurely wished Ms. Murphy “all the best in her fourth term,” a closing met with a round of applause that dominated the Italian restaurant’s dining room.

Those final words of support and praise came after Mr. Fedele relayed the challenges Ms. Murphy faces in public life. “It’s important for those in office sometimes to make difficult decisions,” he said. “Not everyone agrees with you, but you make it because you know it’s the best decision.” That’s true, but the people at the fund-raiser gave no indication of disagreement regarding any of Ms. Murphy’s political decisions. Two early arrivals, Gail Fredette and Cloe Barsotti, support Ms. Murphy because of her willingness to hear all the people she represents, not just the ones that vote for her.” There’s been a big change in New Milford since she’s taken over, and it’s a positive change,” said Ms. Fredette, as Ms. Barsotti nodded in agreement. “She’s more people-oriented, and she listens to everyone. She’s open to hearing different opinions and differences people have. “I’ve been here 19 years, and I never actually knew any other mayor,” Ms. Fredette continued. “I’m not even Republican and I’m going to vote for her.”

Not many people made their political affiliations so readily available, but the fund-raiser was organized by members of the Republican Town Committee.
Regardless of political party, every person surveyed seemed to have a similarly glowing opinion on the apparent transparency and accessibility of the mayoral administration. “I like the way she operates her business,” said Bill Bennett. “The town under her guidance is run in a very professional and courteous manner. If you have concerns, they are addressed professionally.”

Some offered more detailed reasons for their backing. Such was the case with Paul Szymanski, an engineer who is the president of Arthur H. Howland & Associates in New Milford. “She’s been very proactive in supporting us on the Housatonic Riverfront Zone, which allows for the redevelopment of property along the river,” said Mr. Szymanski, referring to Zoning Commission proposal approved earlier this month, one intended to revitalize the economic, environmental and recreational value of property bordering said waterway.

Then, Mr. Szymanski offered another reason. “She’s assisting Parks & Recreations with a dog park, and we need a dog park in town,” said the admitted dog owner.
The high praise she received from her constituents flattered Ms. Murphy, who admitted that sometimes it’s “easier to hear criticism than it is compliments.”
But looking forward to the Nov. 3 election, in which she faces Democratic challenger Robert Coppola, the mayor expressed a desire, should she be elected for another term, to continue efforts in bridging townspeople.

“We always have to find a common ground,” said Ms. Murphy. “We won’t agree all the time, but that’s the great thing about America: It’s built on debate and it’s built for debate.” In her opinion, that’s a healthy way to operate, and it holds just as true in New Milford as it does in any other municipality. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” the mayor concluded.

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