New Canaan's first selectman, running unopposed, looks back at first term
Published 11:16 am, Saturday, October 26, 2013
In his office more than a year ago, First Selectman Robert Mallozzi, then fairly new to the position, exclaimed how much he loved the job, saying that he'd do it for the rest of his career if he could.
Since his election in 2011, much has transpired in New Canaan: a controversy over the pension payments of former First Selectman Jeb Walker; Superstorm Sandy; tumult in the Police Department, including a months-long investigation of Lt. Frederick Pickering; and a brutal winter storm were a few of the highlights, though there were surely many other bumps along the way.
So is Mallozzi, who is running unopposed for a second term as first selectman Nov. 5, more circumspect about the office now?
Not even close.
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"I love what I do. Not even a question. It's been wild, it's been absolutely wild. I'm happy where I am in the first two years and I've got a lot planned for the next six, eight years," he said. "If you look back, the pace in this town has picked up 100 percent. The pace in this town is dramatically different than it was four, six years ago."
Mallozzi grew up in Darien, but spent a significant amount of time in New Canaan. His father, Robert Mallozzi Jr., owned Bob's Sports on Park Street, and the younger Mallozzi helped out there as a teen. He attended St. Luke's School in New Canaan from sixth to ninth grade, before continuing at Darien High School and then the University of Vermont.
Mallozzi married Elizabeth Howland and moved to New Canaan in 1994. He worked as a Realtor for Caroline Realty LLC, and co-owned Bob's Sports. His two kids, Robby IV, 20, and Kit, 17, both attended New Canaan public schools.
Mallozzi recalled some of the highlights of the last two years.
"When I came in (office), I was confronted by some major issues, and I was able, with the help of (Selectmen) Nick (Williams) and Beth (Jones), implement some major changes in how this town was run."
For instance, he said, the Finance Department hired a new director, who's complied with financial rules much more closely than her predecessor. He is also proud of the work he's done in getting the new Town Hall project in motion. Mallozzi was a member of the Town Hall Building Committee III, which met every two weeks for months to plan the building. The Town Council gave its final approval Sept. 19.
"I think it's unprecedented the way we put through the Town Hall building process," he said. "In less than a year, we had a Town Hall developed, planned and financed. That's pretty amazing that we could do it in that time frame."
In his next term, Mallozzi wants to focus on increasing cellphone service coverage in the town, bringing natural gas to residents' homes and town buildings, and merging some tasks and functions of the town's Finance Department with the school district's.
The job is not without its challenges, but Mallozzi said he relishes those, as well.
"The challenges are the competing interests of what the priorities are, what the public believes them to be, and what the tax base can afford," he said. "What I believe, as a leader, this town needs to do and what the public thinks we need to do are not always the same thing. I love that. I love being in the middle of that."
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