‘I wanted to be part of that change’: Lauretti sworn in for 16th term as Shelton mayor

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — Mark Lauretti talked up the city’s low taxes and exploding commercial base while thanking residents for once again supporting this year’s Republican ticket during the city’s inauguration ceremony for elected officials Tuesday.

Lauretti, who was sworn in for a 16th consecutive term as the city’s mayor, congratulated all the elected officials before a packed house at the Shelton Senior Center. Judge Thomas Welch was master of ceremonies, with state Sen. Kevin Kelly giving the oath of office to the elected candidates.

Once the inauguration was complete, the Board of Aldermen held a special meeting and re-elected John Anglace, Jr., board president.

“We have been recognized by national entities - The New York Times, Business Week magazine. And it just goes on and on,” Lauretti said. “People see something very inherent in this community and that is why they continue to come. We’ve earned that status.”

Lauretti said the coming years will see major national manufacturers coming to the city — with the planned extension of Constitution Boulevard and the city-owned Mas property a major draw for these “big name” operations.

“They will bring jobs and get the attention of everybody, not only in the State of Connecticut but surrounding states,” Lauretti said.

Lauretti said he, along with many in the room, grew up when the city had a mere 12,000 people. That is nowhere near the more than 40,000 that presently reside in the city. Back then farms dotted the landscape.

“That has all changed,” Lauretti said. “People ask me why I got involved so many years ago. It was because I wanted to be part of that change. When you are a part of it, you can affect the final outcome, and that is what I have been able to do with the help of so many people over the last three decades.”

The mayor has often noted how the city has become a corporate hub, with more than 1,500 businesses, including PerkinElmer, Pitney Bowes, Prudential, Sikorsky and BIC, compared with about 400 in 1991. Today, Lauretti said, on any given day, 25,000 people come to work in the city.

“Five governors have given Shelton money to help affect that change. Five - Republicans and Democrats,” Lauretti said. “They must see something very inherent in this city to be able to want to make that investment, to want to put their reputations on the line to make that investment.”

Also sworn in were Board of Aldermen Ward 1 representatives Porter McKinnon and Anthony Simonetti; Ward 2 representatives Eric McPherson and Michele Bialek and Eric McPherson; Ward 3 representatives John Anglace Jr., and Cris Balamaci; and Ward 4 representatives Bernie Simons and Lorenzo Durante.

In all, there are three newcomers to the Board of Aldermen - McKinnon and Durante, both Republicans, and Bialek, an Envision Shelton candidate who was the top vote-getter in Ward 2. With Bialek’s election, the Republican hold on the board dropped by one, but still remains a solid 7-1 advantage.

“I am a person who feels that cooperation and communication are the best tools for progress,” Bialek said. “I am not here to become a thorn in anybody’s side. I am here to help make Shelton the best city to call home.

“The people in my ward have entrusted me to serve as their voice at the table and I will do my best to represent them well,” she added. “I am fully aware that I have everything to learn about this responsibility and as the first elected successor to Stan Kudej, I know that I have a large space to fill.

She said Kudej, the longtime Ward 2 alderman who died last year shortly after resigning due to illness, was her neighbor growing up and she knows his family well.

“His passion and love for our ward never wavered and he was dedicated to serving our community. I would like to make sure I do him proud and continue his level of dedication to Ward 2,” Bialek added.

McKinnon said he was glad to get down to city business.

“I am glad the campaign is over,” McKinnon said. “It was a lot of work, but it paid off. I look forward to working with the other aldermen, the BOE and other city officials to keep Shelton moving in the right direction.”

Durante, who was severely ill and hospitalized for several weeks during the campaign, said he was teary eyed during the inauguration.

“I’m so very happy for that opportunity,” Durante, who had his wife and children with him, said. “I also keep on reminding myself to be humble and be who I am. My grandfather who always told me that if I listened to people and really represented them respectfully that I would always have their support in my corner and that’s exactly what I plan to do.”

Republican Ray O’Leary was sworn in as treasurer.

The Board of Education election representatives sworn in were Republicans Kathy Yolish, Carl Rizzo, Joseph Pagliaro Jr., Amy Romano and Jim Orazietti. On the Democratic side were Kate Kutash, Lorraine Rossner, Diana Meyer and Patti Moonan.

On Planning and Zoning, Republicans Ruth Parkins and Peter Laskos and Democrat Jimmy Tickey were sworn in. Daniele Onofrio and John Uysal were sworn in for the Planning and Zoning alternate seats.

Others sworn in were John Belden, John J. Francino-Quinn, John Boyko, Joseph Knapik, Denese Deeds and Jarrett Frazier on Board of Apportionment and Taxation; and Jean Cayer and Stephen Bellis for the Library Board.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com