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Mayor, Council to be Sworn In

Tonight's City Council meeting will be more show than business as newly elected officials will be sworn in to begin their terms.

"To me, this is a great night for the entire city," said Mayor Mark D. Benigni, who will begin his second term as mayor in the latter half of a two-part meeting.

Officials will veer from their usual venue and start the meeting at Edison Middle School on North Broad Street, which is larger than City Council chambers and can more comfortably accommodate guests.

The council will first clear all old business from its slate. The old council will vote whether to slash the mayor's salary by $5,000 to $16,788 per year for his next term. The council will also entertain an ordinance change, allowing municipal employees to serve on land-use boards. If that resolution passes, police Capt. Frank Lewandowski and Jack Friedman of the city's computer and technology department may be back on the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission in time for that group's monthly meeting, which is Wednesday.

The commission members resigned this month after Corporation Counsel Lawrence Kendzior informed them of a state law prohibiting city employees from serving. Kendzior was unaware of a subsequent change in the law that allows municipal employees to serve on land-use boards if the local governing body passes an ordinance.

After all votes are cast and everything else sent to committee, the council will adjourn.

That's when the ceremony begins.

Dignitaries from Hartford will be on hand to administer oaths to the winners of the Nov. 4 election.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, will swear in city councilors.

"I think it's a tremendous honor," said Stephen T. Zerio who was elected to his third term on the council and second as majority leader.

The new council will look a lot like the old one, since Democratic incumbents won five of the six open seats. Zerio, Patricia D. Lynes, George E. McGoldrick, Keith Gordon and soon-to-be Deputy Mayor Matthew C. Dominello Sr. all Democrats are gearing up for another four years representing the city.

The sixth seat, for Council Area 3, was up for grabs after Democrat Joseph R. Galotti, Jr. decided not to run for a third term.

Galotti may be gone from the council after Monday, but his mark on the city will remain, according to Zerio. The linear trail and the animal shelter are both causes Galotti championed. "He was well-spoken on the council, and I'll miss listening to that," Zerio said of his counterpart, who is an attorney and a teacher.

Sandy Maier Schede, another Democrat, will replace Galotti. She has served on the Board of Education for the last four years.

"I'm going to be glad to be working in a committee structure," she said. As for what committees she hopes to serve on, that's up to the party caucus and her fellow councilors, she said.

Mark Hughes will be joining the Board of Education. "I'm really anxious to get there and do my thing," said Hughes, whose first official meeting will be Tuesday.

He and fellow Board of Education freshman Trevor Thorpe will join recently re-elected incumbents William Lutz, a Democrat, and Robert Kosienski Jr., a Republican, who also received the Democratic endorsement.

State Comptroller Nancy Wyman, a Democrat, will swear in the four.

Monday is also Benigni's opportunity to deliver his second inaugural address. "It gives me a chance to talk about some of things I think are important and want to get accomplished in the next two years," Benigni said.

There to usher him in will be Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, a Democrat. Bysiewicz will also swear in City Clerk Irene G. Masse.

After officers take their oaths, the council will reconvene its meeting and start fresh.

From Edison, the festivities will move to the Augusta Curtis Cultural Center on East Main Street.

"It's the culmination of a lot of hard work," the mayor said.

By Hannah C. Glover, Record-Journal staff

12/1/2003


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